Federal Drug Prosecutors Go for Volume

row of handcuffed menA federal crackdown on methamphetamine trafficking from Santa Clara to San Benito Counties has produced the 43rd guilty plea out of 46 defendants charged in what authorities dubbed “Operation Garlic Press.”

Lilia Valderrama, 42, pled guilty Wednesday to possession with intent to distribute five grams of methamphetamine (roughly equal to five sugar packets) .  U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose set Valderrama’s sentencing for March 13, 2013.

Her case and the others were part of an undercover operation in which federal authorities targeted suspected gang members and subjects who trafficked in firearms and narcotics, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.  State officials focused on stolen cars that were part of alleged insurance fraud schemes.

There is no allegation in Valderrama’s indictment that she was involved in gang activity nor that she had any connection to firearms.

In all, federal and state authorities have charged 118 people, according to a statement by federal officials.

The list of items seized includes 86 autos, 52 firearms, methamphetamine with an estimated value of $100,000, according to the statement.

Sentences handed down so far among defendants who pled guilty have been in the range of four to five years in prison.

A list of defendants and their sentences is here.

Case: U.S. v. Valderrama, No. CR11-556LHK




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