Ramon Morales Jr., a resident of Compton, California, has been sentenced to 26 years in federal prison for his involvement in trafficking methamphetamine and guns in Eastern Idaho. The sentence was handed down by U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit and comes as a result of Morales’s attempt to smuggle two pounds of methamphetamine from Mexico into the U.S. on April 7, 2021. While facing those charges, Morales continued to supply large quantities of methamphetamine to local distributors who obtained firearms on his behalf. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives estimates that at least 250 firearms were trafficked through this illegal operation, which has had implications throughout Idaho and the surrounding region.
California Man Sentenced to 26 Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Methamphetamine and Guns in Eastern Idaho
In a recent development, Ramon Morales Jr., a 41-year-old man from Compton, California, has been sentenced to 26 years in federal prison for importing and distributing methamphetamine in Eastern Idaho. U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit announced Morales’s sentencing, stating that his actions involved the exchange of firearms for methamphetamine. The case sheds light on the serious issue of drug and gun trafficking in the region.
Arrest and Initial Charges
Morales’s involvement in illegal activities came to light when he was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on April 7, 2021. During the arrest, Morales was caught attempting to smuggle two pounds of methamphetamine into the United States from Mexico. This initial arrest and subsequent charges laid the foundation for further investigation into his illegal activities.
Supplying Drugs to Local Distributors
While Morales was in custody awaiting his trial for the initial charges, it was discovered that he had been supplying large quantities of methamphetamine to local drug distributors. Two individuals involved in the distribution network were identified as Lynne Marie Boswell, 52, from Pocatello, and Jenny June Manzanares, 40, from Rexburg. Boswell and Manzanares obtained firearms on Morales’s behalf by using straw purchasers, individuals who knowingly purchase firearms with the intention of providing them to someone else in violation of federal law.
Gun Trafficking Conspiracy
The involvement of firearms in Morales’s drug trafficking activities turned the case into a gun trafficking conspiracy. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) estimated that at least 250 firearms were trafficked through this organization. These firearms, purchased by straw purchasers, were later recovered at various crime scenes in Idaho and neighboring states.
Interception of Firearms
On July 27, 2021, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), ATF, and local agency task force officers received information that Morales had arranged to purchase 12 firearms from a gun store in Idaho Falls. However, law enforcement agencies were able to intercept the transaction and seize the firearms. Further investigation led to the discovery of 15 pounds of methamphetamine and the arrest of Jonathan Ramirez-Gutierrez, 29, from Los Angeles, for drug trafficking.
Additional Drug Seizure and Arrest
The investigation into Morales’s activities revealed that he directed Ramirez-Gutierrez to transport the methamphetamine to Idaho and then return to California with firearms. As a result of this evidence, Ramirez-Gutierrez was charged and sentenced to over 8 years in federal prison for his involvement in the drug trafficking operation. The seizure of a significant quantity of drugs and the subsequent arrest highlight the magnitude of the illegal enterprise.
Sentencing of Ramon Morales Jr.
On August 14, 2023, Senior U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill sentenced Ramon Morales Jr. to over 26 years in federal prison for his role in the drug and gun trafficking conspiracy. The severity of the sentence reflects the seriousness of the crimes committed and serves as a deterrent to others involved in similar illegal activities.
Sentencing of Lynne Marie Boswell
In January 2023, Lynne Marie Boswell, one of the local drug distributors involved in Morales’s operation, was sentenced to over 15 years in federal prison. Her role in the drug and gun trafficking conspiracy was instrumental in sustaining the organization’s activities and continued supply of firearms to Morales.
Sentencing of Jenny June Manzanares
Jenny June Manzanares, another member of Morales’s drug distribution network, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for her involvement in the offense. Her sentencing in March 2023 further dismantled the criminal operation and contributed to the disruption of the flow of drugs and firearms in the region.
Sentencing of Jonathan Ramirez-Gutierrez
Jonathan Ramirez-Gutierrez, the individual apprehended with a significant amount of methamphetamine, was sentenced to over 8 years in federal prison. His arrest and subsequent conviction add to the overall success of the investigation into Morales’s drug and gun trafficking activities.
Commentary on the Sentencing
Disrupting Illegal Drug and Firearms Flow
The sentencing of Ramon Morales Jr. marks a significant step in the ongoing battle against the flow of illegal drugs and firearms in Idaho and the surrounding regions. By imposing a lengthy prison sentence, the justice system highlights the seriousness of drug and gun trafficking and aims to deter others from engaging in similar criminal activities.
Law Enforcement Collaboration
The successful outcome of this investigation can be attributed to the collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Idaho State Police, and various local law enforcement departments worked together to gather evidence, make arrests, and dismantle the criminal organization involved in drug and gun trafficking.
Role of the BADGES Task Force
The BADGES Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force, played a crucial role in identifying, disrupting, and dismantling the drug trafficking organization led by Ramon Morales Jr. The task force, composed of members from different law enforcement agencies, follows an intelligence-driven, multi-agency prosecutor-supported approach to combat drug trafficking and related crimes.
Prosecution by Assistant U.S. Attorney Blythe H. McLane
Assistant U.S. Attorney Blythe H. McLane played a pivotal role in prosecuting the cases related to Ramon Morales Jr.’s drug and gun trafficking operation. McLane, who served as the U.S. Attorney Office’s specially-deputized Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA), has shown tremendous dedication and commitment to ensuring that those involved in the illegal enterprise face the consequences of their actions.
Impact of the EIP SAUSA Program
The successful prosecution and sentencing of individuals involved in drug and gun trafficking operations can be attributed, in part, to the Eastern Idaho Partnership (EIP) SAUSA program. This program, created in January 2016, allows law enforcement agencies to utilize the federal criminal justice system to prosecute, convict, and sentence armed criminals and drug traffickers. By providing stiffer penalties than state courts, the program serves as a deterrent and helps disrupt criminal organizations operating in the region.
Statistics and Impact of the EIP SAUSA Program
Number of Defendants Indicted
Since its inception in January 2016, the EIP SAUSA program has indicted approximately 200 defendants involved in various criminal activities. Out of these defendants, 146 have been indicted on drug trafficking charges, highlighting the program’s effectiveness in targeting drug-related offenses.
Average Prison Sentence Length
Defendants indicted under the EIP SAUSA program have received significant prison sentences, with a total of 10,525 months (approximately 877 years) in federal prison. This represents an average prison sentence of 57.6 months (4.8 years). In drug trafficking cases, defendants have received an average prison sentence of approximately 64 months (5.33 years), reflecting the program’s commitment to holding drug traffickers accountable for their actions.
Impact on Drug Traffickers
The EIP SAUSA program, through its collaboration with law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors, has had a significant impact on drug trafficking in the Eastern Idaho region. By targeting and prosecuting drug traffickers involved in large-scale operations, the program disrupts the supply chain of illegal drugs and decreases the availability of drugs in local communities. Additionally, the program’s focus on federal prosecution ensures that drug traffickers face more severe penalties, further deterring others from engaging in similar criminal activities.
Public Information Officer
For more information or media inquiries, please contact Cassie Fulghum, the Public Information Officer, at (208) 334-1211.
Office Locations and Contacts
Boise Main Office: 1290 West Myrtle Street, Ste. 500 Boise, ID 83702 Phone: (208) 334-1211 Fax: (208) 334-9375
Coeur d’Alene Branch Office: 6450 N. Mineral Drive, Ste. 210 Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815 Phone: (208) 667-6568 Fax: (208) 667-0814
Pocatello Branch Office: 801 E. Sherman, Ste. 192 Pocatello, ID 83201 Phone: (208) 478-4166 Fax: (208) 478-4175