Two Arrested in LA Probe of Alleged Family-Run Drug Ring

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Federal authorities today arrested two Los Angeles residents named in a grand jury indictment alleging their involvement in a family-run drug ring that trafficked in pound quantities of cocaine, as well as fentanyl pills.

With one of the named defendants already in federal custody, authorities are continuing to search for the three remaining defendants, including the mother who allegedly oversaw the operation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The eight-count indictment lists a series of drug deals, attempted narcotics transactions and money laundering activity starting in September 2018 and running through last July 3.

The indictment charges six defendants:

-- Maria Trinidad Gutierrez “Tia'' Mendoza, 54, of Downey, the alleged leader of the narcotics ring, who allegedly possessed about 9.5 pounds of cocaine a year ago;

-- Maria's son, Jose Ceja “Feo'' Gutierrez, 32, of South Gate, who is currently in federal prison on unrelated charges;

-- Maria's daughter, Karina Ceja Gutierrez, 35, of Los Angeles, who allegedly helped her mother obtain cocaine and was arrested Tuesday;

-- Jose's girlfriend, Esmerelda “Barbara Moran'' Rodriguez, 29, of Huntington Park, who allegedly helped obtain fentanyl pills;

-- Primitivo Cisneros “Primo'' Cruz, 70, of Los Angeles, an alleged source of narcotics for the drug ring, who allegedly was found with a 2.2 pounds of cocaine in May 2019 and was arrested Tuesday; and

-- Bridgett “Sharol'' Coates, 55, of Lawndale, an alleged customer of the organization.

All six defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, a charge that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life behind bars.

Gutierrez Mendoza is additionally charged with possessing over 9 pounds of cocaine a year ago, and Jose Gutierrez and Rodriguez are charged with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances related to an April 2019 seizure of nearly 7,400 fentanyl pills falsely marked as oxycodone. Cruz is additionally charged with possessing 2.2 pounds of cocaine in May 2019.

Photo: Getty Images

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