Six Charged with Trafficking Cocaine

Six Charged with Trafficking More Than 1,750 Pounds of Cocaine; Investigation Led to Discovery of Cross-Border Tunnel

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Lawrence A. Casper (619) 546-6734, Paul Benjamin (619) 546-7579, James Redd (619) 546-9661

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – May 16, 2022

(STL.News) A federal drug investigation has resulted in the discovery of a sophisticated cross-border tunnel and charges against six people for conspiring to distribute 1,762 pounds of cocaine.

The subterranean passageway, stretching from Tijuana, Mexico to a warehouse in Otay Mesa just east of the Port of Entry, is estimated to be about 1,744 feet long, 61 feet deep and 4-feet in diameter, with reinforced walls, a rail system, electricity and a ventilation system.

The defendants include Mario Jaramillo of Huntington Beach; Adrian Enriquez of Perris, Calif.; Juan Cruz of San Ysidro; and Vanessa Ramirez, Luz de Luna Olmos and Manuel Perez of San Diego. All are charged with cocaine trafficking; Olmos and Ramirez are also charged with methamphetamine and heroin trafficking. In addition to the 1,762 pounds of cocaine, authorities seized 164 pounds of methamphetamine and 3.5 pounds of heroin.

The tunnel was discovered just after midnight on Friday by U.S. law enforcement officials from Homeland Security Investigations who were conducting surveillance on a National City residence that was previously used as a stash house in a cocaine smuggling event on March 2. That event had resulted in the arrest of one person and the seizure of 28 kilograms of cocaine.

According to the federal complaint, at about 11:45 a.m., officials observed as Olmos and Ramirez drove away from that National City residence in a silver Nissan Frontier pickup truck to Harbor Freight Tools store in Chula Vista, where they retrieved large cardboard boxes from a dumpster and put them into the pickup truck.

The women then entered the Harbor Freight Tools store and purchased wheeled carts that are typically used to move heavy items, the complaint said. They later returned to the residence in the pickup truck and removed the boxes from the back of the pick-up bed and carried them inside the residence. At about 1:20 p.m., Olmos left the residence and drove to a Walmart store, where she purchased additional cardboard boxes and transported them back to the residence.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., Ramirez drove the pickup away from the residence to a warehouse located at 9986 Via De La Amistad, Unit A, in San Diego. The warehouse is approximately 300 feet north of the U.S.-Mexico border fence.

Ramirez drove the pickup into the bay of the warehouse and the roll-up door was shut immediately after. At approximately 4:40 p.m., the warehouse door opened. Ramirez exited the warehouse in the pickup and drove back to the residence with law enforcement conducting surveillance.

In the hours that followed, law enforcement officials saw five other cars come and go from either the residence, the warehouse or both. Those vehicles were ultimately stopped by law enforcement, drugs were seized from the vehicles and the residence, and defendants associated with the cars and or residence were arrested.

Upon searching the warehouse, agents uncovered the sophisticated cross-border tunnel exit point carved out of the cement floor.

“There is no more light at the end of this narco-tunnel,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We will take down every subterranean smuggling route we find to keep illicit drugs from reaching our streets and destroying our families and communities.”

Grossman thanked the prosecution team, HSI San Diego Costa Pacifico Money Laundering Task Force, and its partners from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Customs and Border Protection for their excellent work on this case. “This tunnel was discovered because of the patience and tenacity of federal agents who are passionate about protecting their communities from the scourge of drug addiction and related violence.”

“The San Diego law enforcement community has multiple investigative task forces that highly prioritize tunnel detection- exemplified by this tunnel discovery by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego led Costa Pacifico Money Laundering Task Force,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz. “The San Diego law enforcement community throughout the years has consistently shown its ability to detect and remediate tunnels while bringing those responsible to justice.”

There have been 90 subterranean passages discovered in the Southern District of California since 1993. Of those, 27 were considered sophisticated. The last tunnel discovered in the Southern District of California was in March 2020.

The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill Burkhardt.

The discovery of the tunnel resulted from an ongoing investigation by members of the San Diego Costa Pacifico Money Laundering Task Force, which include Homeland Security Investigations, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border
Protection and the United States Attorney’s Office.

DEFENDANTS Case Number 22mj01680

Mario Jaramillo 55 Huntington Beach

Adrian Enriquez 31 Perris

Manuel Perez 49 San Diego

Juan Cruz 48 San Ysidro

Vanessa Ramirez 31 San Diego

Luz de Luna Olmos 43 San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Count 1: Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine (all six defendants) – Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 841 and 846;

Maximum penalty: Mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum of life in prison and $1 million fine

Count 2: Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine (Olmos and Ramirez) – Title 21 U.S.C. Sections 841 and 846;

Maximum penalty: Mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum of life in prison and $1 million fine

Count 3: Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (Luz de Luna Olmos & Vanessa Ramirez) – Title 21 U.S.C. Sections 841 and 846;

Maximum penalty: Mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum of life in prison and $1 million fine

AGENCIES

Homeland Security Investigations

San Diego Sheriff’s Department

United States Border Patrol

*The charges and allegations contained in a complaint or indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

SOURCE: USDOJ.Today