Eleven men were arrested yesterday as part of an ongoing, three-year investigation of interconnected cocaine and firearm distributors largely operating out of Manassas and Fairfax County. To date, more than 60 people have been charged since the operationâ€™s inception in 2009.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and William Hoover, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosivesâ€™ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after the defendants were arrested and made their initial appearances in federal court.
According to court documents, the men are allegedly part of a trafficking ring that supplies large quantities of cocaine to street-level dealers. Members of the conspiracy are natives of several countries, most of whom are illegally present in the United States from Mexico.
Many of the alleged members are part of or affiliated with street gangs, such as La Raza, SUR 13, and 18th Street. To date, the total amount of cocaine purchased or seized by law enforcement during this particular investigation is more than three kilograms. Law enforcement has also purchased or seized more than 20 firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition during this phase of the investigation.
The following were arrested as part of a coordinated takedown on Nov. 30, 2011:
- Jerry Lamberto Cardenas, a/k/a â€œJerry,â€ 36, of Manassas Park, Va.
- Martin Morales Benavente, a/k/a â€œChino,â€ 26, of Manassas Park, Va.
- Luis Antonio DeVincente Olguin, a/k/a â€œAntonio,â€ 22, of Manassas, Va.
- Bennedicto DeJesus Ramos Aguirre, a/k/a â€œLito,â€ 25, of Manassas Park, Va.
- Juan Gabriel Rodriguez, 37, of Manassas, Va.
- Roberto Marin, a/k/a â€œChino,â€ 36, of Manassas, Va.
- Rigoberto Lopez Lopez, a/k/a â€œRigo,â€ 38, of Manassas, Va.
- Oscar Humberto Benitez-Escobar, a/k/a â€œCholo,â€ 35, of Manassas, Va.
- Hugo Tavila Villegas, age and residence unknown at the time of arrest.
- Lamberto Garcia Cruz, 31, of Sterling, Va.
- Diego Fernando Giraldo Gavinia, 21, of Sterling, Va.
Nine of the defendants were charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, which carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. Rodriguez was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, which carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison. Villegas was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The investigation, dubbed â€œOperation Bull Run,â€ is being conducted by the ATF, Fairfax County Sheriffâ€™s Office, Fairfax County Police Department, Prince William County Police Department, and Manassas Park Police Department. The U.S. Marshals Service, Manassas City Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force assisted with the arrests. To date, more than 60 individuals have been charged since the operationâ€™s inception in 2009.
Assistant United States Attorney Lisa Owings is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.