A federal probe into a drug trafficking ring that brought more than 200 pounds of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine from Mexico into Southern California, other parts of the U.S. and Canada has led to eleven people being charged, prosecutors said Friday.
The defendants are facing charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Federal prosecutors allege a total of 107.8 kilograms, or 237.7 pounds, of drugs were smuggled across borders. That includes 22.35 kilograms of heroin, 47.9 kilograms of cocaine and 37.5 kilograms of meth.
In a news release, federal prosecutors describe the alleged smuggling activities of two of the defendants — Alvaro Maclovio Morales-Felix, a.k.a. “Pancho Panthera,” 42, of Mexico and Clovis Etzel Bravo-Silva, a.k.a. “Gordo” or “El Chavo de los 8s,” 37, of Nicaragua.
Morales-Felix arranged for kilogram quantities of narcotics to be trafficked from Mexico into the U.S. between May 2014 until October 2014, with Bravo-Silva then coordinating the shipment and distribution of the drugs from the U.S. into Canada, according to prosecutors.
In October 2014, they allegedly smuggled 24 kilograms of cocaine and heroin stuffed inside a spare tire from the L.A. neighborhood of Wilmington to Seattle and then into Canada.
To launder the drug money, the pair allegedly worked with Manuel Enrique Valdes-Prado, 42, of Mexico, who owned an event ticket-reselling business. Valdes-Prado was also charged in the case.
He helped bring the proceeds from Canada into the U.S. before being sent to Morales-Felix in Mexico, prosecutors allege.
Federal prosecutors describe one instance, on May 21, 2014, when Valdes-Prado allegedly deposited drug money amounting to $110,691 in Canadian dollars — or about $97,352 in U.S. dollars — into a bank account in Seattle.
From a bank branch in Chula Vista, Valdes-Prado then withdrew $19,000 in cash from the account and wired $55,601 to a bank account in Mexico, according to an indictment.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigated the case.