Contact: Kevin R. Malone
Deputy Chief Joe Szalay Mesquite Police Department (702) 346-5262
Lt. Rick KeemaNevada Division of Investigation (702) 346-8826
Steve Johnson Mohave County Sheriff's Office (520) 753-0755
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 16, 1999 2:00 p.m.
News From: Nevada Division of Investigation 99-171
Mesquite Narcotics Bust Nets 36 Suspects
Agents from Nevada, Arizona and DEA Break Up Methamphetamine Ring
A year-long investigation of a major drug distribution ring operating in the tri-state area of Nevada, Arizona and Utah has resulted in 36 indictments and seven search warrants.
The search warrants were served simultaneously this morning on four residences in Beaver Dam, Arizona, two residences in Mesquite, Nevada and one residence in Las Vegas, Nevada. The warrants were served in a joint SWAT-type operation by members of the
state and federal agencies listed below. $7,000 in cash and several weapons were seized.
Arrested were 68-year-old Andres Ortega and a number of his associates and family members. Approximately 10 indicted suspects remained at large as of 2 p.m. October 16th. Ortega, the alleged ring leader, was arrested at his home in Beaver Dam. All suspects face an initial charge of Conspiracy to Traffic in a Controlled Substance. The Arizona Attorney General's Office, which will handle the prosecutions, will seek further charges before a grand jury in Phoenix this upcoming week. Several suspects also face Nevada charges.
Most of the suspects were initially booked in the Mesquite City Jail. All those arrested in Arizona were later transported to the Mohave County Jail in Kingman, Arizona.
The Ortega family and their associates are alleged to be members of the "Rebels 13", a violent street gang based in Compton, California. The Mesquite Narcotics Task Force believes they are the major suppliers of methamphetamine for the tri-state area, importing the drug from Southern California. No methamphetamine labs were discovered while serving the search warrants.
Several members of the Ortega organization are believed to have been involved in two homicides and numerous violent assaults in the tri-state area.
The year-long investigation required the cooperation of numerous police departments and government agencies. Approximately two pounds of methamphetamine were purchased or seized prior to the arrests of October 16th. Participating agencies included:
Mesquite Narcotics Task Force
Mesquite Police Department
Nevada Division of Investigation
Arizona Department of Public Safety
Mohave County, Arizona, Sheriff's Office
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Arizona Attorney General