8 Arrests Made in Connection With a Coachella Valley Drug Trafficking Ring: DOJ

A two-and-a-half-year investigation into a drug trafficking ring came to an end Wednesday when federal authorities arrested eight individuals in Coachella Valley, officials said.

More than 50 pounds of methamphetamine were seized, as well as four firearms, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

The investigation, which relied heavily on wiretapped conversations, targeted a wholesale methamphetamine distribution network that sold to both local and out-of-state customers, the department said.

It was overseen by 42-year-old Raul Lopez-Valenzuela, who the department describes as an “illegal alien and the alleged leader.”

The eight defendants arrested today are among a total of 16 people named in two separate indictments, according to the news release.

The main indictment charges 15 people, including Lopez-Valenzuela. It also lists the names of those arrested Wednesday and three others already in custody. Four of the defendants listed are fugitives, and three of them may be in Mexico, the news release said.

In a second indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday, another fugitive is named.

All of the defendants allegedly distributed methamphetamine and face a potential life sentence in federal prison if convicted.