A federal grand jury in Nashville has indicted 13 defendants in a case that is related to Project Coronado, a two-day, national takedown related to the La Familia cartel that took place earlier this week, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
During the two-day operation alone, $3.4 million in U.S. currency, 729 pounds of methamphetamine, 62 kilograms of cocaine, 967 pounds of marijuana, 144 weapons and 109 vehicles were seized by law enforcement agents.
“Mexican drug dealers have reeked havoc on American society far too long,” U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough said in a statement. “This national enforcement action is a significant strike back at these offenders and the citizens of Middle Tennessee can be justly proud that their local and federal agents played a significant role in the case.”
Read more about Project Coronado here
La Familia is a violent drug trafficking cartel based in the state of Michoacan, in southwestern Mexico, where it controls drug manufacturing and distribution, including the importation of vast quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States.
According to court documents, La Familia is a heavily armed cartel that has utilized violence to support its narcotics trafficking business including murders, kidnappings and assaults. According to one indictment unsealed in New York, associates of La Familia based in the United States have allegedly acquired military-grade weapons, including assault weapons and ammunition, and have arranged for them to be smuggled back into Mexico for use by La Familia.
Individuals indicted in the cases are charged with a variety of crimes, including: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana; distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana; conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States; money laundering; and other violations of federal law.
On Sept. 30, a grand jury in the Middle District of Tennessee indicted the following 11 individuals and two additional defendants whose names remain under seal, alleging a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine:
Mauricio Orozco-Rios, 25, a/k/a Chapulin a/k/a Flaco a/k/a Guicho;
Francisco Jorge Sepulveda, 26, a/k/a George;
Martin Martinez, 40, a/k/a Martin Martinez-Alvez a/k/a Juve;
Hugo Sepulveda, 23;
Marcos Arriaza Rios, 31;
Sergio Orozco-Rios, 21;
Lourdes Liliana Rios, 24;
Mauricio Beltran Jaimes, 22, a/k/a Neto;
Mandrell Christmon, 31, a/k/a/ Nes;
Renso Noriega, 27, a/k/a Levi; and
Jubercio Rodriguez-Pena, 27, a/k/a Rene.
All of these defendants are in federal custody.
The superseding indictment was under seal until Oct. 20. The defendants face penalties of a minimum of 10 years in prison, with a maximum term of life, a fine of up to $4 million and at least five years of supervised release.