MIL-OSI Security: Five Men Indicted for Methamphetamine and Fentanyl Trafficking in Merced County as Part of “Operation Red Rooster”

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Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (b)

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment today against five men, Fernando Arellano, 36, of Planada; Isaiah Serena, 40, of Merced; Jason Mott, 49, of Merced; David Gonzales, 45, of Merced; and Christopher Baca-Arias, 18, a native of Honduras; charging them with crimes related to a Merced drug trafficking operation, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

Arellano, Serena, and Mott are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Serena and Mott are additionally charged with distribution of methamphetamine. Serena, Mott, Gonzales, and Baca-Arias are charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, and Serena, Gonzales, and Baca-Arias are additionally charged with distribution of fentanyl. Serena is also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

According to court documents, Serena and Mott operated a drug trafficking operation centered on a self-storage business in Merced. Arellano supplied methamphetamine for the operation, while Baca-Arias supplied fentanyl. Gonzales worked for Serena and Mott. During the course of the investigation, conspirators distributed more than 40 pounds of methamphetamine and 2 pounds of fentanyl.

This case is a product of “Operation Red Rooster,” a long-term investigation into gang violence and drug trafficking by Homeland Security Investigations, the Merced-Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team (MAGNET), the California Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the California Highway Patrol, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, the Merced Police Department, the Livingstone Police Department, and other agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Veneman-Hughes is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Arellano, Serena, Mott, and Gonzales face a statutory maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine. Baca-Arias faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results. For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, Justice.gov/PSN.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) program. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. For more information about Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, please visit Justice.gov/OCDETF.

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