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Source: US State of California

Defendants Allegedly Commuted to San Francisco to Supply the Tenderloin District with Fentanyl and Other Drugs

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury indicted seven East Bay residents, charging them with crimes related to a scheme to supply drug users and dealers in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District with narcotics, including fentanyl and heroin, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) NorCal Special Agent in Charge Tatum King, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair.  In a press conference earlier today, U.S. Attorney Anderson announced the indictment and announced that charges were filed in a related criminal complaint against an eighth defendant.

The seven indicted defendants are Emilson Jonathan Cruz Mayorquin, aka “Playboy” (Cruz), 23; Leydis Yaneth Cruz (Leydis), 42; Ivan Mauro Mayorquin (Mayorquin), 35; Pamela Carrero aka “Nicole,” aka “Kendra,” 20; Ana Maldonado, 22; Adonis Torres, 33; and Mayer Benegas-Medina, 27.  According to the indictment, from at least July to December 2020, the defendants conspired to distribute fentanyl.  Court documents describe how defendants were members of a drug trafficking organization (DTO) being run primarily by Cruz and his mother, Leydis.  Cruz and Leydis allegedly worked with other associates including Cruz’s significant other (Maldonado); Cruz’s sister (Carrero) and her significant other (Torres); and another family member (Mayorquin) to engage in street level drug sales and to supply narcotics for resale to multiple local narcotics re-distributors.  The defendants allegedly lived in the East Bay, but routinely traveled to the Tenderloin to sell drugs, primarily fentanyl, on the streets of San Francisco. 

“Parents and children who are sheltering in place against the Covid virus find it impossible to leave their own homes because of open-air drug use and drug trafficking by people who have come to the Tenderloin from outside the neighborhood,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson.  “No neighborhood should be designated a law-free zone where dangerous drugs can be bought and sold with impunity.”

“The Federal Initiative in the Tenderloin began more than a year ago with a focus on eradicating the open air drug markets operating in the area with impunity. This case is another example that our sustained efforts are making a difference and we do not intend to take our foot off the gas,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux. “The people who live and work in this community deserve a neighborhood in which the rule of law prevails.”

“Fentanyl and heroin are a scourge on our nation, poisoning and killing our family and friends. The trail of destruction in human lives and community blight inevitably leads to the doorsteps of the criminals illegally trafficking these narcotics. Anyone involved in destroying lives just to make an illicit profit by selling drugs in Northern California will not remain free,” said Special Agent in Charge King. “Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents worked closely with our partners at the DEA, FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, San Francisco Police Department, and San Ramon Police Department to disrupt and take down this criminal enterprise. Through U.S. Attorney Anderson’s Federal Initiative for the Tenderloin, HSI agents will continue leading and supporting this and other federal criminal investigations in the region.”

In court documents, the government has alleged that multiple members of the DTO sold a variety of drugs—including powder fentanyl, counterfeit pharmaceutical pills containing fentanyl, and heroin—to a DEA agent acting in an undercover capacity. The documents describe how members of the DTO often referred to the diverse types of fentanyl being sold by their various colors, such as blue, pink, and yellow.  Further, the government has alleged that members of the DTO communicated by cell phone to discuss all aspects of running the drug business, including the availability of the various types of fentanyl, the public demand for different varieties of drugs, and the price at which drugs could be sold.  They even discussed how they could grow their drug business (e.g., “the gram customers recommended other good customers who got more.”)  The members of the organization also discussed the presence of police in the Tenderloin, the amounts of each type of fentanyl they had available for sale, and, on at least one occasion, whether another member of the organization could travel to San Francisco to bring a particular variety of fentanyl that another member forgot on his commute from the East Bay.

Papers filed in the case also describe the dangers of fentanyl in stark terms.  Fentanyl is about 50 times stronger than heroin and about 100 times stronger than morphine.  Further, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, two out of three of the 46,802 opioid overdose deaths in 2018 involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.  In addition, the San Francisco Office of the Medical Examiner published data indicating that approximately 300 people in city of San Francisco died between January and August 2020 due to accidental overdoses from fentanyl. According to the DEA, two milligrams of fentanyl can be a fatal dose. In this case, the DTO allegedly sold approximately $45,000 worth of drugs to an undercover agent, including over 200 grams of powder fentanyl. 

Court documents describe how federal investigators used a variety of tools including physical surveillance, undercover purchases, and interception of communications on cell phones used by Cruz, Leydis, and Carrero, to further the investigation.  In one example of an October 2020 cell phone exchange between Mayorquin and Cruz, Mayorquin reported that another individual wanted to work for Cruz as a street-level dealer.  Cruz responded that he could keep the person busy.  During the same call, Cruz asked Mayorquin to lend him (Cruz) an ounce of yellow fentanyl for resale.   

Court documents also describe how Mayer Benegas-Medina was arrested as part of the law enforcement operation that led to the indictment.  Benegas was arrested in the Oakland residence where Ivan Mauro Mayorquin also was arrested.  The indictment alleges Benegas used a cellular telephone to facilitate drug transactions. 

In addition to the seven defendants in the indictment, Gustabo Alfonso Ramos, 22, was arrested in Oakland and charged in connection with a drug sale that occurred near the corner of Franklin Street and Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco.  According to the complaint, on October 8, 2020, Ramos distributed approximately four ounces of fentanyl in exchange for $4,000. 

In sum, the defendants are charged with the crimes and face maximum penalties as indicted in the chart below:

Charges

Statute

Defendant(s)

Maximum Penalties

(per count)

Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl

21 U.S.C.

§§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C)

All defendants

except Gustabo Alfonso Ramos

20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine

Distribution of Fentanyl

21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C)

Pamela Carrero (5 counts)

Leydis Yaneth Cruz

20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine

Distribution of 40 Grams or More of Fentanyl

21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)

Pamela Carrero

Leydis Yaneth Cruz

40 years in prison (maximum), a minimum of 5 years in prison, and a $5,000,000 fine

Distribution of 100 Grams or More of Heroin

21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)

Emilson Jonathan Cruz Mayorquin

40 years in prison (maximum), a minimum of 5 years in prison, and a $5,000,000 fine

Illegal Use of a Communication Facility

21 U.S.C. § 843(b)

Mayer Benegas-Medina

4 years in prison and a

$250,000 fine

Distribution of Fentanyl

21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C)

Gustabo Ramos

20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine

An indictment and a criminal complaint merely allege that crimes have been committed, and each defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  The court may order additional terms of supervised release and restitution, if appropriate; however, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The defendants are scheduled for court appearances as follows:

Defendant

Next Court Date

Emilson Cruz Mayorquin

December 21, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.

Leydis Yaneth Cruz

December 18, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.

Pamela Carrero

December 18, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.

Ivan Mauro Cruz Mayorquin

December 21, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.

Ana Maldonado

December 22, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.

Adonis Torres

December 17, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.

Mayer Benegas-Medina

December 17, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.

Gustabo Ramos

December 22, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.

The case is being prosecuted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. The investigation of this case was conducted by the DEA, HSI, the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the San Francisco Police Department, and the San Ramon Police Department.

This investigation and prosecution is part of OCDETF, which identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

MIL OSI USA News