Friday, September 07, 2012

California Methamphetamine Trafficker Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison for Gun and Drug Offenses

Fifth and Final Defendant Sentenced

BOISE—Mario Bautista, 36, of Bell Gardens, California, was sentenced today in United States District Court to 271 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession, brandishment, and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge also ordered Bautista to forfeit $200,000 in drug proceeds; pay $10,000 in restitution; and pay a $2,000 fine. Following his prison term, Bautista must serve five years of supervised release. He pled guilty to the charges on April 10, 2012.

According to court records, five defendants, Bautista, Shane Brizendine, Armando Saltzer, Monica Martinez, and Daniel Pena, admitted they participated in a large-scale drug trafficking ring in the Treasure Valley over a period of several years. Bautista admitted that beginning on or about May 20, 2009, and continuing to August 12, 2011, he conspired with co-defendants Saltzer, Brizendine, Martinez, and others to distribute methamphetamine. Bautista further admitted to ordering co-defendant Pena to commit a drive-by shooting on a house located in Wilder, Idaho. Pena admitted to committing this drive-by shooting, in which several bullets narrowly missed a juvenile who was asleep in the house. Additionally, Bautista admitted that in August 2011, he held several people hostage, while pointing a gun at their heads and threatening to kill them and their family because a prior drug debt was unpaid. One of the victims pleaded with Bautista not to kill her, as she was pregnant.

In sentencing Bautista, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge stated, “You lived a life of intimidation and threats, and it is difficult for the court to show sympathy, when you showed no sympathy for others.” Judge Lodge noted that in addition to ordering a drive-by shooting, and threatening to kill the family members of those that had outstanding drug debts, Bautista threatened a co-defendant, advising her that if she did not pay her drug debt, he would throw acid in her face.

The four co-defendants sentenced earlier to serve federal prison sentences for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine are Armando Jason Saltzer, of Nampa, Idaho, 160 months; Monica Martinez, of Wilder, 60 months; Shane Brizendine, of Wilder, 162 months; and Daniel Pena, of Caldwell, Idaho, 156 months. Pena also pled guilty to discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Saltzer, Pena, and Martinez each had prior felony drug convictions. All five defendants have been ordered to forfeit all assets derived from the drug trafficking offense.

“This case demonstrates the violence that accompanies methamphetamine trafficking organizations that come to Idaho because of our community’s insatiable desire for this very powerful, dangerous, and addictive drug,” said Olson. “Methamphetamine and those that bring it to Idaho, distribute it throughout our state, and use it in our communities, are a major threat to the safety and well-being of our citizens.”

Doug Hart, FBI Acting Supervisory Special Agent stated, “The case against Mr. Bautista and the sentence that was issued today demonstrate the seriousness of gang related drug and associated violent crimes. The FBI and the participating agencies that constitute the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crimes Task Force are committed to the fight against gangs and drug trafficking organizations, and we will not cease in our ongoing efforts to protect the citizens of our communities from persons who are engaged in these illegal activities.”

The case was investigated by the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crimes Task Force, one of 160 Safe Streets task forces nationwide in which local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies combine their resources and expertise to address gangs and other public safety issues across traditional jurisdictional boundaries throughout the Treasure Valley.

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