Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, April 16, 2021

Operation Crystal Vine, Madera, CA: 38 Arrested Linked to Mexican Cartel Suppliers

"Yaqui" for Borderland Beat

Madera County, California takes down large drug trafficking ring based out of tiny community:

The year-long, multi-agency investigation led to the seizure of 14 firearms and more than $400,000 worth of drugs.

The Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team announced on Monday the takedown of a large drug trafficking operation that was based in tiny La Vina, a farming community of less than 300 in the southwest part of the county.

Operation Crystal Vine was launched in July of 2020 by the Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team.

The ring was led by Juan Jimenez along with his wife, Maria Hidalgo, and son Alexis “Nessy” Jimenez, who are three of 38 individuals arrested in the case.

Juan Jimenez , the ring leader, second from left -second row

The operations resulted in the seizure of 18 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 60 grams of cocaine, 3.7 pounds of heroin, nearly 25 pounds of marijuana, 64 grams of concentrated cannabis and 3,400 fentanyl pills.

"They actually were burying large quantities of drugs, which made it extremely difficult to conduct this investigation," Pogue said. "They went to great lengths to make sure that they were not discovered."

"We basically decimated one gang," says Madera County District Attorney Sally Moreno. "Arrested most of the members of that particular gang and then some of the dealers that we arrested are receiving drugs directly from larger cartel dealers."

The narcotics had a value of more than $420,000.

There also were 14 firearms recovered through an investigation that started in July 2020 and was dubbed Operation Crystal Vine, the largest gang and narcotics investigation conducted by the Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team in more than a decade.

“Detectives learned that Juan Jimenez was procuring narcotics from Mexico and distributing them throughout the state of California,” Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue said.

“Alexis is a documented gang member with a violent history that includes assault with a firearm. Our investigation uncovered that this family used various gang members to distribute the guns and drugs throughout the county of Madera and the state of California. Throughout the investigation, electronic intercepts were implemented to help determine when the drugs were being transported. Nearly a dozen traffic stops were orchestrated during this operation yielding the seizure of sizable amounts of various drugs.”

The arrests in the case have produced a number of felony and misdemeanor charges including conspiracy, distribution of controlled substances, firearms offenses and assaults.

Bail on those cases range from $100,000 to $5 million.

Juan Jimenez, 47; Hidalgo, 48; and Alexis Jimenez, 24; all have been arrested on the following felony charges:

Three counts each of conspiracy

  • One count of transportation/sales of methamphetamine, with an enhancement for 20+ kilograms and an additional gang enhancement.
  • One count of transportation/sales of heroin with an enhancement for 1+ kilogram and an additional gang enhancement.
  • One count of transportation/sales of cocaine, with a gang enhancement.

Juan Jimenez is also charged with additional felony counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and committing a felony while released on bail.

“I just want to remind everybody how serious the charges in this case are,” Madera County District Attorney Sally Moreno said. “These are serious allegations that these 38 and more individuals are dealing drugs and acting as violent gang members in our community.

“As the cases come over to our office, you can be assured that we will do everything in our power to serve justice and to make sure we keep Madera County as safe as we possibly can.”

Moreno says while the arrests are good news for many impacted California cities, the impact will be deeply felt most deeply in La Vina.

"The vast majority of individuals came out of that community, so that community that was dealing with that surge of drug dealing, gangs, guns and violence will hopefully get respite from these arrests," she said.

Gang members who were arrested as a result of the operation will face additional gang enhancement charges. More arrests are expected to come.

The Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team includes detectives from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, Madera Police Department, Chowchilla Police Department, Madera County Probation, Madera County District Attorney’s Office and the California Highway Patrol. They were assisted by officers from the California Department of Justice and the High Impact Investigation team.

The investigation was started after an increase of criminal activity in La Vina, Pogue said, and it found Jimenez was acquiring methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine from Mexico and various sources, and distributing the drugs throughout various locations in the state.

“Fairly far north all the way down to the border,” Pogue said.

Starting on April 5, the Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team served 12 search warrants in Fresno and Madera counties including one at the Jimenez residence in the area of Avenue 11 and Road 23 in La Vina, where a number of coolers were found. Detectives believe the coolers were used to hide guns and drugs that had been buried on the property, the group, Pogue said, went to great lengths to conceal their activity.

“This is a tremendous day for public safety in Madera County,” the Madera County sheriff said. “The substantial seizure of drugs and firearms will no doubt make a significant positive impact on the safety of our communities. We’re thankful for the collaboration between our allied agencies to successfully navigate and continue this investigation.”

Operation Crystal Vine Overview ; Arrests: 38

  • Petra Teresa Anaya, 32, Chowchilla
  • Ralissa Janelle Huizar, 28, Madera
  • Ramon Loza Chavez, 36 Madera
  • John Anthony Chavarria, 33, Madera
  • Jose Manuel Sanchez, 39, Madera
  • Jose Manzano, 40, Madera
  • Rodrigo Delfonso Martinez, 29, Madera
  • Alejandro Gomez Frias, 26, Fresno
  • Oscar Tista-Herrera, 27, Madera
  • Oscar Arredondo, 39, Sanger
  • Francisco Camarillo, 29, Madera
  • Juan Jimenez, 47, Madera
  • Simon Garcia, 62, Madera
  • Eulises Romero Soto, 29, Madera
  • Aaron Matthew Campos, 40, Paso
  • Robles Rafael Nunez, 26, Le Grand
  • Oscar Aguayo, 30, Madera
  • Michael Jimenez, 32, Chowchilla
  • Issa Lidia Silva, 21, San Bernadino
  • Higinio Montes, 24, Calexico
  • Bartolo Salinas, 46, Madera
  • Paula Ramirez, 35, Fresno
  • Suzanne Marie Barajas, 34, Madera
  • Ruben Frias, 57, Fresno
  • Alexis Jimenez, 24, Madera
  • Maria Hidalgo, 48, Madera
  • Mario Hernandez Ortega, 54, Madera

Drugs Seized + Approximate Street Value:

Methamphetamine: 8,165.5 grams (18.002 lbs); $244,965

Cocaine: 60.1 grams; $3,606

Heroin: 1676.9 grams (3.7 lbs); $134,152

Marijuana: 11,261.0 grams (24.8 lbs); $20,000

Concentrated Cannabis: 64 grams; $1,600

Fentanyl Pills: 3,400 pills; $17,000

Total Estimated Value: $421,323

Firearms: 14

Asset Forfeiture: $64,874

Just Last October 2020 13 people were charged by the Feds in a Meth, Heroin and Fentanyl trafficking ring operated in Fresno, California:

Three Fresno men and 10 others are accused in a drug-trafficking operation that spread into several states, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday.

The federal grand jury returned two indictments Thursday against the Fresno men — Jesus Gonzalez-Burgos, 36, Gabriel Gomez-Nunez, 36, and Jose Rubalcalva Gutierrez Jr., 34 — charging them with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl.

Also charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl: Juan Alejandro Comparan-Guzman, 34, of Kerman; Quintin Jeuh Carlos-Bañuelos, 25, of Palo Alto; Hector Gomez, 27, of Omaha, Neb.; Francisco Ramírez, 20, of Fresno; Lorena Ramírez, 36, of Fresno; Christina Maria Nino, 57, of Fresno; Anna Concepcion Jimenez-Ambriz, 21, of Fresno; Rafael Zaragoza, 28, of Fresno; Carol Maldonaldo Vasquez, 32, of Corcoran; and Rita Ann-Marie Louis, 29, of Carnation, Wash.

Authorities said they spent nine months investigating the Fresno drug-trafficking ring that allegedly spread into Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Nebraska.

Court documents revealed the defendants were trafficking methamphetamine, fentanyl-laced counterfeit OxyContin pills and heroin into those states.

Authorities seized approximately 34,144 pills of counterfeit OxyContin pills containing fentanyl, 7 pounds of cocaine, 2 pounds of heroin, 137 pounds of methamphetamine and $142,000 during the investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

If convicted, the suspects face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million.

Sources: FresnoBee / FrsnoBee / ABC30 (Video) / BigValleyNews


  1. Prison time for sure, home and fancy cars for sale at next government auction. I am great full they published thier pictures and names, while in Mexico they protect the criminals identity by blocking faces and names. Do the crime do the time.

    1. Cartels are not welcomed in USA.

    2. They are all already here

    3. 5:08 sorry, but cartels are in even before the american Independence War, the british were already trading opium from india to china and to england and having their own cartel opium wars.
      Women got addicted to their tea from china because they did not get well treated by their owners, that was also before the Vino Mariani improvements with cocaine enhancements and Coca~Cola.

  2. Eso les pasa por andar ahi nomás de calientes.
    The collective bail won't be paid, and the enhancement must be baking soda, (one dollar a pound), but the Agentes sure made a killing getting paid by the US government...
    Hope this case does not go like the Tulia Texas mass arrest of black drug traffickers by AG John Cornyn and his deputy AG michael mc Caul, now us "senator and congressman" respectively.
    The complicity of senator John Cornyn and rep michael mc caul in the mass arrests of black people in Tulia Texas, by Chris Chu de León jul 20
    --their condecorated lawman of the year Tom Coleman ended up arrested for perjury, but Cornyn had 750 years collective prison sentences, sentences, vast majority overturned, but after 16 years in prison by many victins who refused to plead guilty.

  3. Which crime groups are the most dangerous and powerful nowdays in the USA?

    1. 12:59 republicans and democrats

    2. They already answered this it’s the Mexican Mafia the most powerful in the US and the most structured.

    3. The Democrat Crime family and Black Lives Matter Syndicate are the most disruptive. Street gangs probably the Blacks are the most dangerous

    4. 12:59 black gangs runs the shit everywhere together with mexicans

    5. Blacks are puppets for the joos

    6. 10:43 Black Lives Matter and democrat criminals did not try to steal an election by insurrection and an attempted take over of the US Capitol, no democrat, ANTIFA or BLM officer is under investigation, or asphixiated any cops with their knees on the ground...
      You need to eat up your BS,
      all of it, and stop your puke jobs here just because there is a freedom of expreshun.
      it is not a freedom to lie punk!

  4. Aquí en el vallé tienen pura gente pendeja trabajando

  5. And THE show continues 😆
    LIKE if that's GOING to solve THE PROBLEM.
    Go AFTER China if you REALLY want to make a DIFERENCE..
    Isn't THAT WHERE all THIS drugs come FROM.. ??
    No, IT'S better if WE BLAME the MEXICANS 😆

    1. You need to ask yourself does Mexico make them and then take it to USA, wake up kid with emojis

  6. Just made bail on a DV case housed with some of these guys. News have a way for making an interesting story I tell ya. Good people get in trouble all the time. Government gets paid for victimless crime. If I go to the store and by booze and condoms it's not illegal because the business pays the government cartel to do business. I.e tax license etc.... Tell me the difference and I will tell u ur absolutely right. No matter what the answer is.


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