Grand Jury Indicts Seven in Connection with Drug and International Arms Trafficking Conspiracies

Jun 24, 2010, 13:56 ET from U.S. Department of Justice

PANAMA CITY, Fla., June 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An 11-count indictment has been filed in U.S. District Court in Panama City, charging seven defendants with various drug and firearms charges, including a conspiracy to export 50 fully automatic machine guns from the United States to Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Thomas F. Kirwin.  

Counts one through four of the indictment, charge Ramiro Gomez-Gomez, 27, and Julian Garcia-Penaloza, 26, both of Mexico, with two counts of conspiracy, and two counts of illegal firearms possession, based upon allegations that between April 2009 and May 2010, the two negotiated with a confidential informant to purchase 50 fully automatic AK-47 machine guns for shipment to Mexico.  Count five of the indictment alleges that Gomez-Gomez, and Garcia-Penaloza, together with Santiago Valdez-Gomez, 24 and Florencio Barrios-Hernandez, 25, both of Mexico, illegally possessed firearms while being unlawfully in the United States. Count seven charges Gomez-Gomez and Garcia-Penaloza with possession of firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Count six alleges that during the same period as the firearms conspiracy, Gomez-Gomez, Garcia-Penaloza, Valdez-Gomez, Barrios-Hernandez, together with Pascual Montor-Torres, 28, of Mexico, Jose Barajas, 53 and Maria Cifuentes-Espinoza, 35, of Texas, conspired to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.   Counts eight and nine allege that, on Jan. 11, 2010, Garcia-Penaloza distributed a quantity of methamphetamine, and that on May 23, 2010, Garcia-Penaloza and Barajas, distributed more than 500 grams of cocaine.  

Counts 10 and 11 of the indictment charge Garcia-Penaloza and Valdez-Gomez with illegally re-entering the United States after deportation.  

If convicted of conspiracy as charged in counts one and two of the indictment Gomez-Gomez and Garcia-Penaloza face a maximum term of five years in prison on each of the counts.  The firearms offenses alleged in counts three, four and five of the indictment carry a maximum of 10 years in prison.  If convicted of the drug trafficking conspiracy charged in count six of the indictment, defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to a maximum of life in prison.  If convicted of possession of a machine-gun in connection with a drug trafficking conspiracy as charged in count seven of the indictment, Gomez-Gomez and Garcia-Penaloza face a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison.  Count eight carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and count nine carries a mandatory term of five years up to a maximum of life in prison.   The illegal reentry charges alleged in counts 10 and 11 of the indictment each carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Barajas is scheduled to be arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Larry Bodiford, in federal district court in Panama City.   Garcia-Penaloza, Valdez Gomez, Barrios-Hernandez, Montor-Torres, and Cifuentes-Espinoza are scheduled to be arraigned before Judge Bodiford on Thursday, July 1, 2010.   Gomez-Gomez has not been apprehended by authorities yet.  

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Bay County Sheriff's Office; the Panama City Police Department; the Panama City Beach Police Department; the Jackson County Sheriff's Office; the Houston County Sheriff's Office; and the Dothan Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gayle E. Littleton.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a criminal offense.   Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice