Law Enforcement Agencies Collaborate to Take Down Major Methamphetamine Suppliers
Seven Federal Defendants Indicted
An eight-month operation by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has netted numerous arrests and seizures:
- 7 search warrants served
- 46 lbs. of methamphetamine seized
- 211 marijuana plants eradicated
- 3 lbs. processed marijuana seized
- $10,000 cash seized
- 5 guns seized
This announcement is made by U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan.
In November 2017, a Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy on patrol made a traffic stop in the area of Fresno Street and Ashlan Avenue. The driver, 55-year-old David Stuard of Fresno, was arrested and booked into the Fresno County Jail after the deputy searched his vehicle and found approximately one pound of methamphetamine, along with heroin and prescription pills.
The Fresno Sheriff’s Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) was notified of the arrest and began an investigation. Detectives learned that Stuard would buy one kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of methamphetamine at a time and sell it in half and one pound quantities to smaller dealers. As detectives investigated further, they identified two Fresno men as being the major suppliers.
Detectives served search warrants at seven locations, six of which were in Fresno and one in Modesto. The DEU brought the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, DEA, and FBI, who agreed to prosecute the case at the federal level.
On June 14, 2018, Victor Garcia, 33; Angel Rivera, 31; Adolfo Lopez Rayas, 32; Patrick Shaun Burriel, 46; and Michelle Madewell, 41, all of Fresno; and Luis Chaves Torres, 38, of Modesto, were charged in a nine-count federal indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and other narcotics offenses. Lopez-Rayas and Torres were also charged with firearms offenses. On June 14, 2018, another one-count indictment was returned against David Stuard charging him with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Assisting in the investigation were the California Highway Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, Fresno Police Department, Kings County Sheriff’s Office, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vincenza Rabenn and Laurel Montoya are prosecuting the cases.
This case was the product of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply. To accomplish this mission, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its federal and local law enforcement agency members.
If convicted of the drug offenses, Garcia, Rivera, Lopez Rayas, and Torres, face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. If convicted, Burriel and Madewell face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million. If convicted of the firearms offenses, Torres and Lopez Rayas face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.