Details released about a large drug bust in Southern Idaho earlier this week


By Paul Johnson

BOISE, ID (KMVT-TV) U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson has released more information on the drug bust that occurred earlier this week in areas of Southern and Western Idaho. In a news release issued by Olson, she says ten people were indicted in U.S. District Court in Boise, Idaho, on February 10, 2011, on numerous narcotics trafficking and firearms charges. According to the four separate indictments, which were unsealed Wednesday, the defendants are accused of conspiring together and with others to distribute controlled substances, including methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, throughout southwestern Idaho.
In connection with the indictments, joint enforcement operations were conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday by the Idaho State Police, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security
Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration, which resulted in the arrest of 11 people and execution of 10 search warrants in the Magic Valley and Treasure Valley.
According to Olson, several of the arrests and search warrants were the direct result of a 14-month ISP-led investigation, in which DEA, ATF, and ICE assisted with identifying illegal firearms and narcotics activities in Idaho, Arizona and Mexico. According to the indictments, four firearms, along with various quantities of illegal narcotics, including multiple pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, were seized by officers and undercover informants during the investigation.
As a result, Olson said the following individuals were indicted federally on February 10 and arrested on February 15 and 16 on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, distributing methamphetamine, distributing marijuana, distributing cocaine, and/or unlawful possession of a firearm by illegal aliens.

Lazaro Ramirez Arreola, 39, of Parma, Idaho
Ceila Ivonnie Loya, 31, of Wendell, Idaho
Julio Cesar Cardelas-Martinez, 32, of Jerome, Idaho
Noel Diaz, 33, of Richfield, Idaho
Rocendo Lara, 55, of Jerome, Idaho
Jesus Manuel Fontes, 49, of Jerome, Idaho
Francisco Garcia, 49, of Bliss, Idaho

One defendant, Juan Montejano Barraza, 40, of Twin Falls, Idaho, was already in custody. Two remaining defendants have not been arrested. The indictments also include forfeiture allegations.
The federal charge of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years to life in prison, a $4 million fine, and a term of supervised release for five years.
Three men identified through ISP investigation were also arrested and charged in state court with narcotics trafficking, possession and distribution offenses: Bernardo Benites, 52, of Kimberly, Idaho; Pablo Roque, 43, of Jerome, Idaho; and Elpidto Fontes-Martinez, 46, also of
“Idaho communities are unquestionably safer because of combined law enforcement efforts such as this,” said Kelvin Crenshaw, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Seattle Field Division. “When law enforcement agencies stand and work together, then criminals—regardless of alien status—ultimately lose. ATF will continue to combat violent crime and work side-by-side with our federal, state and local partners to target and pursue those that would prey upon our communities, shatter families and destroy lives.”
“Idaho State Police detectives spent hundreds of hours leading to arrests spanning two days,” said Capt. Robert Storm. “The ISP is proud of the dedication and professionalism of our officers and their commitment to improving the safety of our communities.”
Assistance during the joint operation was also provided by the Canyon County Sheriff's Office, Jerome Police Department, Jerome Sheriff's Office, Twin Falls Police Department, Twin Falls Sheriff's Office, Gooding Sheriff's Office, Idaho Probation and Parole, and the Boise Police Department.
An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence Olson said.

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