RIVERSIDE, California – U.S. Federal authorities Wednesday morning concluded a 2½-year wiretap investigation into a drug trafficking organization based in the Coachella Valley in California by arresting eight defendants linked to the distribution of wholesale quantities of methamphetamine, The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
The eight people arrested Wednesday by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration are among 16 defendants named in two indictments returned by a federal grand jury on June 14. In addition to Wednesday’s arrests, three defendants already were in custody, and five defendants are fugitives, with three of those believed to be in Mexico.
The investigation – which was dubbed Operation “Narco Navigator” – targeted a significant methamphetamine distribution network overseen by a Coachella man that was responsible for sending narcotics to local sellers, as well as to customers in other states. During the course of this investigation, the DEA and its law enforcement partners seized over 50 pounds of methamphetamine and four firearms.
The main indictment charges 15 defendants, 11 of whom were arrested Thursday or were already in custody.
All 15 defendants named in this indictment are accused of participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. If they were to be convicted, each defendant would face a potential sentence of life in federal prison.
Those arrested today are expected to be arraigned on the indictment Wednesday afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside (with the exception of Osteen, who is expected to appear tomorrow in federal court in San Diego).
The investigation in this matter was conducted by the DEA, which received assistance from the United States Border Patrol; the Palm Springs Police Department; the Palm Springs Fire Department; the Coachella Valley Narcotics Task Force; the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshal’s Service; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the California Highway Patrol; the Riverside County District Attorney’s Gang Impact Team; and the Nebraska State Patrol.