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Federal narcotics indictment names two suspects from Ceres, 16 others

Two Ceres residents are among 17 people indicted as part of a large-scale methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine distribution operation, the U.S. Department of Justice reported.

According to court documents, between April 2019 and June 2020, agents seized more than 140 kilograms of methamphetamine, more than 500 grams of heroin, and $130,000 in cash.

The first indictment charges 12 defendants with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and more than 100 grams of heroin. The indictment also charges several defendants with possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it. Each defendant is charged with using a cellphone in the conspiracy. Charged in this indictment are: Victor Manuel Velazquez, 34, and Diana Cervantes, 26, both of Ceres. Also indicted are Humberto Pimentel Caranza, 27, and Leopoldo Gonzalez Jr., 30, both of Modesto; Antonio Mendoza Ramos, 42, of Bakersfield; Erasmo Zarate Solorzano, 42, of Sacramento; Estela Acevedo, 60, of Las Vegas; Carlos Cano Manzo, 49, of Mexico; Jose Genaro Vargas-Ramirez, 19, of Des Moines, Iowa; Alma Adriana Mora Madrigal, 49, of Ontario; Alejandro Mora Madrigal, 51, of El Monte; and Fernando Cardenas, 47, of Compton.

The second indictment charges Juan Zamora Torres, 59, of Turlock; Julio Mendoza Madrigal, 29, of Modesto; Robert Lewis McCommas, 45, of Idaho; Dorian Willes, 43, of Idaho; and Heather Romoser, 42, of Idaho. Torres is separately charged with several counts of distributing methamphetamine and heroin. Torres and Madrigal are charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. Madrigal, McCommas, Willes, and Romoser are charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine. Each defendant is also charged with using a cellphone in furtherance of the conspiracy.

The cases are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Ceres, Modesto, Turlock, Merced, West Sacramento and Woodland police departments, the Stanislaus and Merced County sheriff’s departments, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, and a number of other agencies.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angela Scott and Michael W. Redding are prosecuting the case.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine.