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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Sacramento, California: Grocery Store Owner At Center Of FBI Drug Investigation

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The owner is accused of using the store as a front and partnering with one of Mexico’s most ruthless cartels.

Jose Manuel Chavez Zepeda, owner of La Victoria Supermercado on Del Paso Boulevard in Old North Sacrmaento, has been charged with cocaine trafficking. Federal authorities accuse him and another man of using the store as a front for a drug ring.

The owner of a small grocery store in Sacramento is among two local men charged last month in federal court, accused in a cocaine trafficking ring with ties to one of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels.

Jose Manuel Chavez Zepeda, 54, was charged in a criminal complaint filed March 14 and recently unsealed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

Chavez and Denis Zacarias Ponce Castillo, 37, of Sacramento were each charged with one count of distribution of at least 500 grams of cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, according to court documents.

Chavez resides in Carmichael and owns La Victoria Supermercado, a Mexican grocery store on Del Paso Boulevard in Old North Sacramento, according to the court filing, which came following an FBI investigation launched in April 2016.

The complaint alleges that Chavez used his store to launder money and managed a network of local “sub-dealers” that included Ponce. It also says Chavez and others would engage in “narcotics related meetings” at the store.

Store, stash house used in Old North Sacramento

The FBI used a confidential informant, and later physical surveillance, to gather information on the activities of Chavez, Ponce and several other alleged co-conspirators including a Ceres man named Mario Naranjo Gonzalez, court documents say.

Chavez used La Victoria Supermercado as a base for cocaine trafficking operations and “to launder proceeds from his narcotic sales,” the complaint says, though he has not been charged with money laundering. The complaint says Chavez laundered this money to “affiliates in Mexico.”

Chavez also ran a “stash house” at a nearby residence in the Old North Sacramento neighborhood, according to court documents, and managed “sub-dealers” in the Sacramento area.

The complaint says one of Chavez’s largest sub-dealers was a man nicknamed “El Ciego” – Spanish for “the blind man” – who works as a mechanic in the Sacramento area. The informant identified El Ciego as Ponce, according to court documents.

Ties to Jalisco New Generation Cartel 

The criminal complaint says Chavez’s source of cocaine is a person he refers to as “Compadre,” who lives in Mexico.

“Compadre is connected to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or ‘CJNG,’” court documents say. “The cocaine the (informant) would deliver would be marked with the ‘NG’ (for New Generation) stamp on them.”

Jalisco New Generation is considered Mexico’s second-largest drug cartel after the Sinaloa Cartel and is widely known for its use of extreme violence. The cartel is not directly mentioned by name anywhere else in the 68-page criminal complaint, though Compadre is.

The FBI informant said Compadre would arrange for cocaine to be smuggled from Mexico into the U.S. where it was then transported to Los Angeles.

“Once the cocaine reaches Los Angeles, it is then loaded into smaller Nissan trucks and driven to an individual known as ‘Joto’ in Ceres,” whom the FBI identified as Gonzalez, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint says the FBI informant “ran special errands” for Chavez and delivered cash totaling more than $400,000 to Gonzalez over the course of three trips, which Gonzalez stored “in his garage until he was ready to take it down to Mexico.”

The informant told investigators last July that at one point, Chavez cut out Gonzalez and began to receive cocaine directly from Compadre, according to court documents. Compadre then told Chavez and Gonzalez they needed to work together, and they resumed doing so.

Feds monitored transactions across California

The complaint details numerous transactions of cash and cocaine that allegedly took place from June 2021 through last month, at a variety of locations across California as well as Vancouver, Washington. Agents with the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and partnering task forces used physical surveillance including court-authorized geolocation data to monitor those transactions.

In June, Ponce and Chavez sold a half-kilogram of cocaine to the informant at Chavez’s grocery store, according to the criminal complaint. The informant, while wearing a recording device, drove to La Victoria Supermercado and gave $7,000 to Ponce from the driver-side window of the informant’s vehicle in exchange for the cocaine, which Ponce delivered in a brown bag, court documents say.

The informant recorded another conversation in July, this one with Chavez, according to court documents.

“Chavez stated he spoke to ‘Compadre’ about the cocaine,” the FBI affidavit summarizing that conversation said. “Chavez made statements regarding the ‘beauty’ and pureness of the cocaine.”

One day after that conversation, Ponce traveled to Gonzalez’s home in Ceres, under apparent instructions by Chavez to pick up 2 kilograms of cocaine, court documents say.

FBI investigators determined Gonzalez would run narcotics and money between Mexico, multiple locations in California including the Sacramento and Modesto areas, and Vancouver, according to court documents.

Hidden compartments found in car during stop

On Oct. 15, deputies with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office pulled over Gonzalez during a traffic stop; a search of his vehicle using a narcotics K-9 helped turn up close to $80,000 in a hidden compartment inside his 2021 Toyota Camry. The Sheriff’s Office seized the cash.

Gonzalez was not charged in last month’s criminal complaint despite being a central figure in its narrative. An FBI affidavit in the complaint says the findings from the nearly six-year investigation constitute probable cause to conduct further searches of vehicles and properties associated with Chavez, Ponce and Gonzalez.

Ponce has been in custody at the Sacramento County Main Jail downtown since March 16 on a federal hold. He is ineligible for bail.

Chavez was released from custody in late March after posting $500,000 bail, under conditions including the surrender of his passport and providing a DNA sample, court filings show.

More than 2,400 files related to case

The two defendants had been due to appear in federal court for a status conference this Tuesday, but the hearing was continued to May 24, court records show. A judge granted the continuance to allow attorneys time to review a substantial trove of physical evidence and documents in the case.

“The government has represented that the discovery associated with this case includes more than 2,400 pages of investigative reports, photographs, phone toll records, and other materials,” reads a stipulation signed April 15 by counsel for both sides. “All of this discovery has been produced directly to counsel.

“In addition, the government has made available for review more than 2,900 pages of additional materials, as well as video and audio recordings.”

If convicted, Ponce and Chavez each face up to 40 years in prison and fines up to $5 million, with a statutory minimum of five years in prison

CBS Sacramento    The Sacramento Bee


  1. What else is new with this guy's glad the law caught on to it on time.

  2. Uncle Sam going to be slinging groceries and burritos once forfeiture is completed!!!!

    1. 6:36 hopefully they'll save a burrote for you that will chase you home until you crash and feed you your papas.

    2. S - such
      I - idiotic
      R - replies

      You have time to reply, use it to think before you speak.

    3. 8:25 This is his favorite site, he got kicked out of Facebook and Reddit. Some others too, some with low IQs

    4. 6:07 HEY! Fack face took, reddit, twitter and truth OK?
      My other favorite site is Devin's Cow (and Devin's Mama) which make fun of trumpanzee former congressman and uber rider Devin Nunes, now CEO of failed trump enterprise "Truth" media dedicated to lie and steal investors money...

    5. Fack Facebook and elon musk and Twitter, motherfuckers caught lying and spreading lies should be fined for abusing their freedom of expression and for conspiring with their synchronized swimming pool with caca.

  3. The money won't launder itself

  4. Mmmmm all along the American/ Mexican border lots of money laundering meat markets grocery stores car lots,car washes, construction companies and imports and exports logistics companies.....

    1. Popsicle and frozen ice cream vendors with their street carts are suspicious, but there will be the need for more, more and more cuicos with "combat pay".
      These operations for show and tell just keep fleecing the US Treasury credit cards like russian oil vendors.

  5. I have no hard evidence, but I believe one Seattle bar I visited was a node on
    a Mexican drug network. I frequented it for 15 years and never had any major problems. But the suspicion of me lingered, however muted. My understanding of Spanish is rudimentary, but I occasionally caught the word "chota." Never to my face though.
    One night two silent guys stared daggers at me. One growled in Spanish "that rata better get the fuck out ahorita!" I left, but only because I was already going to. Glad I did leave tho. Sometimes you never really know how much trouble you are in.

    1. Thats stereotypical of you pig.
      Its probably just that they dont like cops in their restaurant neing nosy thinking they are suspicious font u think maybe thats whats going on?

    2. Anybody looking like a school girl or a choir boy without their groomer that does not take part of the party would look suspicious, dogs can smell them from a mile away, and chotas stink worser than skunks, only greedy newbies imagine it is a 50/50 chance the suspect is not a suspect and go for the 100% loss with a chance for snitching that is why I don't even trust my drug addicted friends or myself, they all trying to get your pedorro in prison to play doctor or to play house.

    3. Spoken like an immature newbie. Not everyone has to party to be trusted. There are ways to find out things. You should know

    4. 1:26 yeah, like when doggies go smelling each other's ass...

    5. 8:33 Or when they shit in every yard and piss like untrained dogs. They are worse thinkers than monkeys

    6. 2:22 well, some untrained monkeys with shoes step on it all the time, then eat it thinking it is swell...

    7. Hey Micky Monkey are you a a real monkey poop eating monkey?

  6. @2:49. I'm not stereotyping. The place was raided once. Transactions occurred there. Players in the Seattle area dropped by. Trust me, I knew them.
    In fact, a Mexican friend never went there and warned me not to go. "You're going to get shot" he said without elaborating.
    Like I said, I didn't get a major vibe that I shouldn't be there. Mexicans are cool folks. The neighborhood is basically white now so it's boring.

    1. The neighborhood has been gentrified, I'm sure the drugs were planted by the investor gentrificationists at expense of the bar owner, even the hoes in the hood are planted by those "decent" motherfackers.

    2. James Brown your priced out, rent is going $2,000 a month for a one bedroom.

    3. Well, james, Welcome home, new store cart street person, stay awaynfromnthencrack pipes, meth and fentanyl, also remember to squeeze a lemon when you take partners to your tent.

  7. They only grabbed one chip from the bag. All that area, northern & central California, has a major CJNG presence. Cds has most of southern Cali.

  8. It’s always been said CJNG was heavy in central and northern CA.

    1. Nope not really, they want some hot AR15 and our neighbors have guns and ammo, any good rat cartel wants our town, they will be shot.

    2. I think there's a presence of every group but sometimes one dominant entity takes the reigns. In the 90s and 00s Cartel de Sinaloa/Durango families had the reigns. I have no doubt they are still here. Juarez Cartel has been a visible force too. Cartel del Golfo has appeared in some local stories that describe gang leaders being killed by them. So they are also competing in the game. Los Zetas I have only heard in stories but Z40 and Z42 did frequent Chicago for business and luxury shopping. That wouldn't be too ridiculous to believe since they liked spending on extravagant horse races in Kentucky or big ranches in Texas. CJNG have become a known player in this city since mid 2010's. Lastly Guerreros Unidos was formed in the suburb of Aurora. Illinois. This is based on urban rumors and DEA drug assesments. Anyway the point is that many Mexican cartels operate in this region. Like you guys said one group will have most of the shares in one place. It must be very different in the West. I agree it would be CDS as the dominant group, but California is a huge market. I wonder if the cartels in Mexico have regional agreements like big companies

      - El Mickeyson de Chicago

    3. El Mickey, you're absolutely right. The DEA came out with a few vartel map charts say ing what cartels operate in the U.S. and CDS, CJNJ, CDG, and BLO were the major ones. They were in alot of different state. But there were others with smaller foot print. Pretty much all of them had presence in the U.S. I know for a fact alot of CDG parents crossed the border just so their kids would be born and when grown, they would set up shop in the U.S. and run certain cells. Couldn't speak too much english, but were legit american born U.S. citizens by birth.


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