Thursday, June 14, 2012

Arrests Made in Stanislaus County of Methamphetamine Traffickers

FRESNO, CA—Five alleged drug traffickers were arrested in Stanislaus County on Wednesday on methamphetamine trafficking charges, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. The defendants are scheduled to appear in court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin at 1:30 p.m.

Four of those arrested were indicted by a federal grand jury on June 7, 2012. Those indictments were sealed until the arrests of the defendants.

Israel Perez, aka Manuel Valasquez, 30, of Modesto, was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, along with two counts of methamphetamine distribution. Agents found a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and a half-pound of methamphetamine at his residence.

Juan Acosta Valasquez, aka Johnny, 32, of Modesto, is charged with three counts of methamphetamine distribution. Agents found three pounds of processed marijuana at his residence.

John Turnquist, 31, of Modesto, was charged with one count of methamphetamine distribution. Agents found 54 marijuana plants and ¾ pounds of crystal methamphetamine at his residence. Jerry Khatthavong, aka J-Rock, 21, of Modesto, was charged with one count of methamphetamine distribution.

Agents also arrested Diego Ramirez, 18, of Ceres. He is charged by criminal complaint with drug trafficking. In his residence, officers found eight pounds of methamphetamine, two handguns (a Smith and Wesson .40-caliber semi-automatic and a Glock .40-caliber semi-automatic), and $3,000 in cash. Another handgun (a Beretta 9mm semi-automatic) was found in the car Ramirez was using.

These cases are the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force (CVGIT), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Stanislaus County Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Modesto Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Yasin Mohammad is prosecuting the cases.

If convicted of the charges, the defendants each face a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years. They face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The actual sentences, if convicted, will 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, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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