Inland Empire meth distribution ring shut down, 150 pounds of meth seized

INLAND EMPIRE, Calif. — During a joint agency press conference held in Riverside this morning, officials announced the arrest of twelve of nineteen people accused of operating a methamphetamine distribution ring that trafficked the drug from Mexico and distributed it throughout the Inland Empire. Two additional defendants were charged in separate indictments in March, bringing the total number of defendants to twenty-one. One has already pleaded guilty and the other remains in custody and is awaiting trial. Four others named in the indictment remain at large.

The arrests stemmed from a two year investigation and take-down operation as part of a Federal Grand Jury indictment that was unsealed this morning Wednesday, June 9. The FBI’s Inland Empire Safe Streets Task Force, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS Criminal Investigation team, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and the Riverside Police Department investigated the case.

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“This morning, teams made up of more than 225 law enforcement personnel, made up of multiple federal and local agencies, including several SWAT teams, arrested twelve of nineteen people included in a federal grand jury indictment which was filed on May 5th and unsealed today,” Christy Johnson, the Assistant Director in charge of the Los Angeles Field Office of the FBI, said during this morning’s press conference, (which can be viewed in its entirety below).

Today’s unsealed indictment alleges that from April 2020 to August 2020, Timoteo Gomez, 48, and Javier “Harvey” Rodriguez, 54, both of Riverside, purchased methamphetamine from suppliers in Mexico. Others named in the indictment would then distribute the methamphetamine throughout the Inland Empire.

According to the indictment, in April 2020 the conspirators attempted to smuggle 46.6 pounds of methamphetamine from Mexico, across the U.S. border at Calexico. Then, in May 2020, another co-conspirator attempted to bring a load of 90.4 pounds of methamphetamine into the U.S. through the San Ysidro port of entry.

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The indictment also charges some of the defendants with offenses such as possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to import methamphetamine, being a felon in possession of weapons and ammunition, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, and attempted international money laundering.

“The indictment alleges the defendants conspired to traffic more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine from their suppliers in Mexico throughout the Inland Empire,” Johnson explained; adding, “All 19 are charged with one count of conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute methamphetamine.”

“This carries a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence and statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment,” she continued.

In addition to the methamphetamine seized during the investigation, officials seized $30,000 in cash and a variety of weapons, according to Johnson; who said, “These numbers are particularly significant because the defendants were able to smuggle these drugs across the border during Covid, when it was more difficult to do as the cartels were driving up the prices.”

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City of Riverside Police Chief Gonzalez went on to explain, “Not all cases elicit a multi-agency approach, but when dealing with gangs that want to bring harm and disruption to our neighborhoods, a response like this is necessary.”

“We want to let the criminals know that just because your activity may cross different jurisdictions does not mean our enforcement efforts won’t do the same,” the Chief continued. “And when it’s appropriate in cases like this we will join forces and combine resources together to hold these criminals accountable.”



Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.

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