California Man, Ismael Ochoa Sentenced to Federal Prison in Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Involving Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmates, Former Angola Guards, and Others
(STL.News) United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced that U.S. Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick sentenced Ismael Ochoa, age 34, to 90 months in federal prison following his convictions for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine, and unlawful travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise.
The Court further sentenced Ochoa to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment and forfeit $5,735.
Ochoa was charged along with twenty-one other individuals in connection with an extensive federal, state, and local investigation by the Middle District Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) aimed at a drug trafficking organization – Jellystone – a large-scale cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine trafficking network based in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, with suppliers in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, and Colton, California.
According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, Ochoa agreed with others, to smuggle heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine into Angola, which is located in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, in the Middle District of Louisiana.
On September 25, 2017, Ochoa traveled from San Bernardino, California, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to assist in smuggling marijuana and methamphetamine into Angola. Upon his arrival in Baton Rouge, Ochoa borrowed a Glock handgun to keep during his stay in Baton Rouge. On or about October 1, 2017, Ochoa helped Individual 1 package approximately 3 pounds of marijuana and 4 ounces of methamphetamine to be smuggled into Angola and traveled with Individual 1 to Angola to assist in the smuggling.
Between July 2017 and September 2017, Ochoa received over $5,735 as payment for illegal controlled substances, to include heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine that were distributed by two illegal drug dealers in California, and shipped to Louisiana for delivery to inmates in Angola, to include an Angola inmate. Ochoa then used these funds to distribute to members of the drug-trafficking conspiracy with which he was involved, and also to pay the California drug dealers, and others, for heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine that had been shipped to Louisiana and then smuggled into Angola for further distribution by the Angola inmate.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “This defendant is one of the key leaders of a drug distribution conspiracy which brought significant amounts of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine into our district and penal system. Those involved include inmates at Angola serving either life or other significant terms of imprisonment, former Angola guards, and drug suppliers from California. This sentencing restores justice in order to protect our citizens and promote respect for the law. I want to thank our prosecutor, the FBI, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the West Feliciana Sheriff, and the Louisiana Department of Corrections who worked tirelessly, and in constant coordination, to advance the goal of eliminating opioids and other harmful drugs from our district.”
“The FBI’s goal is to identify and target criminal enterprises and other groups engaged in drug trafficking. Justice was served to Mr. Ochoa who chose to traffic and distribute illicit narcotics in Angola State Penitentiary. I want to thank the efforts and collaboration of the United States Attorney’s Office, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the West Feliciana Sheriff, and the Louisiana Department of Corrections who worked tirelessly to dismantle this criminal enterprise,” stated the FBI Special Agent in Charge Bryan Vorndran. “I assure you, the FBI will continue to enforce the laws and intervene when drug traffickers distribute narcotics on the streets or in the prison system.”
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Louisiana Department of Corrections and West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul L. Pugliese.
The investigation that led to this indictment is another effort by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program that was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers.The OCDETF Program is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General’s drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises. The OCDETF Program operates nationwide and combines the resources and unique expertise of numerous federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated attack against major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.