Federal, local authorities announce 26 suspects indicted after multi-agency drug trafficking investigation

File photo: UPI/Sakhorn

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 1, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Investigators from multiple law enforcement agencies gathered on Tuesday morning to announce multiple arrests and more charges in cases of gang-related drug trafficking in Utah.

Those charged and, in most cases, taken into custody, have ties to a new and dangerous drug cartel, officials said.

“We are very pleased to be here today to be able to announce the removal of significant amounts of drugs from our streets,” said Andrea T. Martinez, acting United States Attorney for the District of Utah.

Agencies represented at the news conference included U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Utah; Drug Enforcement Agency; Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Internal Revenue Service, and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Also investigating was the Unified Police Department Metro Gang Unit.

Andrea T. Martinez, acting United States Attorney for the District of Utah. Photo: Official portrait

The investigation began in September 2020, and since then, more than 42 pounds of methamphetamine, seven pounds of heroin, 5,000 fentanyl pills, 71 grams of fentanyl powder, 15 firearms, and more than $25,000 have been seized, officials said.

In late May, a federal grand jury granted an indictment for 26 suspects alleged to have conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin in northern Utah. Investigators said Tuesday the group is believed to be responsible for 420 pounds of meth, reportedly from Mexico, being distributed and transported in the Salt Lake County during this year and last.

Department of Justice officials say 21 of those charged face a combined 34 charges for a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine in Utah; conspiracy to launder money; and firearm charges.

A list of those charged was released later, and included defendants from age 18 to 60. The names given are:

  • Luis Cilla-Vigil, 35, Rosarito, Mexico
  • Jesus A Vila-Garcia, 46, Salt Lake City
  • Joe Robert Rael, aka “Jojo,” 52, Salt Lake City
  • Jerry Philip Vigil, aka “Nino,” 47, Bountiful
  • Jennifer Lopez-Lopez, 20, San Marcos, California
  • Maria Islas-Avila, aka “Sky,” 22, Escondido, California
  • Martin Verduzco-Muro, aka “Lalo,” 28, Bountiful
  • Edward David Lucero, 54, Sandy
  • Linda Hernandez-Alvarez, 34, Salt Lake City
  • Brian Michael Fioravanti, 34, Salt Lake City
  • Jeffrey Kraig Ellis, 60, West Valley City
  • Patrice Rael Raelynn Estes, 39, Salt Lake City
  • Leandro Cortez Ochoa Lovato-Howels, 40, Salt Lake City
  • Mario Alberto Lovato, aka “Grump,” 40, Salt Lake City
  • Joseph Raymond Trujillo, aka “Qujo,” 31, Salt Lake City
  • Celina Alexandra Garcia, aka “Baby G,” 26, Salt Lake City
  • Pete Vince Espinoza, 37, Salt Lake City
  • Judy Ann Maestas, aka “Juicy Judy,” 30, Salt Lake City
  • Felicia Nicole Mingura, aka “Fela,” 34, Salt Lake City
  • Erika Rachelle Vigil, 30, West Valley City
  • Jessica Leeann Vigil, 30, Sandy
  • Anthony James Runion, aka “Lil Ace,” 19, Salt Lake City
  • Richard Lawrence Trujillo, 32, Salt Lake City
  • Brandon Jay Perrault, aka “Trip,” 42, Salt Lake City
  • Pedro Jurado, 56, Midvale
  • Kylee Jiminez-Cunam 18, Bountiful

The grand jury had previous indicted five defendants in the same case. They are:

  • Daniel Maestas, 48, Salt Lake City, charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute
  • Linda Rose Garcia, 33, Salt Lake City, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm
  • Joseph Paul House, aka “Chino,” 36, Taylorsville, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm
  • Victor Jurado, 34, Salt Lake City, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm
  • David Soto-Acasota, aka “Droops,” 26, Salt Lake City, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm

Below, find the unsealed indictment documents for the suspects more recently charged.

indictment CJNG Sinaloa Norteno

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