Mexican Drug Ring Leader Arrested

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MEXICO -- A law enforcement task force of federal, state, and local agents and officers on Thursday arrested 10 people linked to a Mexico-based drug trafficking organization that allegedly smuggled large quantities of methamphetamine into the United States and distributed the drug throughout Southern California, the Central Valley and the State of Washington, according to reports obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

Dubbed the Don Chuy Drug Trafficking Organization, the narcotics ring allegedly obtained multi-kilogram quantities of methamphetamine in Mexico; arranged for the transportation of the drugs into the United States, primarily by using hidden compartments and fake car batteries in vehicles driven through international ports of entry; and distributed wholesale quantities of the drug through cells based in the Inland Empire, California’s Central Valley and Washington.

During an eight-month investigation into the Don Chuy organization, law enforcement authorities seized approximately 90 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of well over $5 million. Authorities made a series of large seizures of narcotics, including the seizure of almost seven pounds of methamphetamine on August 11, 2009; the seizure of almost five pounds of nearly pure methamphetamine on September 9; the seizure of approximately 24 pounds of methamphetamine that was discovered in a tractor-trailer on Interstate 5 in Kern County on October 26; the seizure of more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine in Fresno on November 17; and a seizure this morning of approximately five pounds of methamphetamine at a house in Gardena that authorities believe was maintained by the Don Chuy organization.

Also, as authorities investigated people who allegedly transported methamphetamine for the Don Chuy organization, they seized eight kilograms of cocaine secreted in a vehicle that attempted to enter the United States at the Calexico Port of Entry on September 18.

The Don Chuy Drug Trafficking Organization is named after the ring’s alleged leader, Jesus Marquez-Marquez, who is known as “Don Chuy” and allegedly stored drugs in Tijuana stash houses before the drugs were moved across the international border. Marquez-Marquez, who is the lead defendant in a criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District Court, is believed to be in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Several of Don Chuy’s top lieutenants -- including David Jimenez-Pedroza, who allegedly oversaw domestic distribution of Don Chuy narcotics -- were arrested today or were previously taken into custody.

The criminal complaint charges a total of 31 defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, a charge that carries a statutory maximum penalty of life without parole in federal prison.

Those named in the criminal complaint are: The leader of the drug trafficking organization, Jesus Marquez-Marquez, also known as “Don Chuy,” approximately 40 years of age, who is believed to be residing in Mexico, from where he coordinates for the transportation, importation and delivery of methamphetamine to domestic distributors;

The primary distributor of Don Chuy narcotics in the United States, David Jimenez-Pedroza, also known as “Oscar Manuel Guerrero,” 31 or 32, of Corona, who is currently in federal custody in San Diego;

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