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Rome-area methamphetamine distributor and money launderer sentenced after trial

Rome-area methamphetamine distributor and money launderer sentenced after trial

Juan Cain Valencia-Ramirez has been sentenced for conspiring to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine and to launder drug money.

“This defendant was responsible for importing, processing and distributing hundreds of kilograms of methamphetamine in the metro-Atlanta and Northwest Georgia areas,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “His long history of methamphetamine dealing and eluding arrest has ended thanks to the coordinated efforts of DEA and other federal and local law enforcement partners.”

“No matter how sophisticated the techniques get for smuggling drugs, the DEA and its law enforcement partners remain a step ahead of criminals and will deny them the opportunity to destroy communities with their insidious drugs,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “This investigation was a success as it dismantled a once-thriving meth ring in North Georgia.”

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: In April 2018, Juan Cain Valencia-Ramirez operated a methamphetamine processing and distribution cell in Rome, Georgia. Valencia-Ramirez processed liquid methamphetamine imported in vehicle gas tanks from Mexico and coordinated the distribution of the drugs in metro-Atlanta and Northwest Georgia. He also directed associates to deposit thousands of dollars in drug money that he funneled through bank accounts.

Valencia-Ramirez had remained an elusive law enforcement target because he frequently changed phones and relied on associates to complete drug deals. But federal investigators successfully tracked Valencia-Ramirez’s phone to his residence in Rome following an undercover methamphetamine purchase during which DEA agents recorded a phone call with him.

Undercover agents again recorded a phone call with Valencia-Ramirez during an attempted methamphetamine purchase in September 2018. In October 2018, DEA agents, the Dalton Police Department, and the Rome/Floyd Metro Task Force searched Valencia-Ramirez’s stash house located in a wooded area outside Rome. During the search, investigators recovered approximately 176 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine (worth more than $1.1 million at 2018 prices), evidence of a methamphetamine processing lab, and several firearms. The drugs were buried in caches of camouflaged ice chests and plastic bins concealed in the woods around the property.

Valencia-Ramirez fled to Houston, Texas, following the search, where he continued managing his methamphetamine and money laundering operation. In November 2018, DEA agents searched a stash house belonging to Valencia-Ramirez in Houston where they seized approximately 17 kilograms of methamphetamine. DEA agents eventually located him in June 2019 in Smyrna, Georgia, and arrested him. That same day, agents searched the residence of two of Valencia-Ramirez’s co-defendants, Javier Rivera and Jasmine Garcia, and found more methamphetamine and firearms.

Juan Cain Valencia-Ramirez, a/k/a “Chapa,” 39, of Rome, Georgia, was sentenced to 22 years, one month in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release. On November 1, 2021, a jury convicted Valencia-Ramirez of the offenses of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, attempted distribution of methamphetamine, and conspiracy to launder money.

The following co-defendants pleaded guilty, including several who have been sentenced:

  • Javier Rivera, 26, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, was sentenced to 17 years and one month of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to the offenses of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and conspiracy to launder money on December 11, 2020.
  • Luis Perez, 28, of Norcross, Georgia, was sentenced to 11 years and 10 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to the offense of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on March 12, 2020.
  • Ricky McPherson, 26, of Rome, Georgia, was sentenced to five years and five months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to the offense of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on October 16, 2019.
  • Jasmine Garcia, 24, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, pleaded guilty to the offenses of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to launder money, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense on December 1, 2020, and is awaiting sentencing.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance provided by IRS Criminal Investigations, the Dalton Police Department, and the Rome/Floyd Metro Task Force.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John DeGenova and Nicholas Joy prosecuted the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.gov.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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