Two Georgia Department of Corrections inmates, Carmelo Reyes-Lozano and Bautista Toledo-Ramirez, have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine.
“Keeping our citizens safe by combatting illegal distribution of dangerous drugs within and outside prisons is a top priority of this office,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “These defendants and their 12 conspirators trafficked a staggering amount of illegal narcotics. Their prison sentences reflect the seriousness of their conduct and the grave danger posed to communities impacted by their drug trafficking.”
“Regardless of how sophisticated these criminal organizations think they are, they’re no match for the professionalism and dedication of the DEA,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division. “This case brought 14 people to justice and cut off a significant supply chain for methamphetamine.”
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: During a federal wiretap investigation in the summer of 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) intercepted several inmates in Dooley State Prison and Washington State Prison using contraband cell phones to discuss narcotics deals. In response, the DEA in February through April 2020, extended the investigation and discovered that Carmelo Reyes-Lozano and Bautista Toledo-Ramirez served as leaders of a drug trafficking organization and were directing a series of drug transactions in the Atlanta area from their prison cells.
On February 15, 2020, agents intercepted communications between Reyes-Lozano and co-defendant Luis Carlos Vite-Garcia discussing a large drug shipment that arrived in the Atlanta area. Federal agents were then able to identify an address in Rex, Georgia being used as a “stash house” for narcotics. Agents searched the stash house pursuant to a warrant and discovered approximately 588 kilograms of methamphetamine (crystal and powder form), approximately 100 gallons of liquid methamphetamine in the process of being converted to a crystal form, a drug ledger, and a Mossberg 500 shotgun. Investigators saw siblings Hector Hugo Miranda-Fernandez (“Miranda”) and Jessie Miranda-Fernandez (“Fernandez”), who conspired with Reyes-Lozano and Toledo-Ramirez, at the residence and arrested Fernandez later that evening.
The next day, agents intercepted a conversation between Reyes-Lozano and Miranda, during which Miranda stated that he was fleeing to Mexico due to the DEA’s discovery of the stash house and his brother’s arrest. On February 20, 2020, agents learned that Miranda was in Texas and traveling to the border. That afternoon, officers with the Encinal Police Department in Texas located and arrested Miranda.
On February 28, 2020, the DEA intercepted another set of communications, this time between Toledo-Ramirez and co-defendant Delshawn Morrow. During the calls, the men discussed plans to smuggle methamphetamine into Washington State Prison. Utilizing intel from these intercepts, investigators arrested co-defendant Bertha Daniels the following day as she entered the prison with approximately 180 grams of methamphetamine hidden on her person. The investigation revealed a video recording of co-defendant Jhojana Pujol delivering the drugs to Daniels in a motel parking lot near the prison on behalf of Toledo-Ramirez.
On March 23, 2020, the DEA intercepted additional communications indicating that Toledo-Ramirez and Reyes-Lozano were coordinating a multi-kilogram methamphetamine deal with co-defendant Jason Lloyd Barnum using co-defendant Jean Pierre as an intermediary. Investigators learned that Pierre was a prolific marijuana trafficker who had supplied several of Toledo-Ramirez’s customers in the past. The following day, co-defendants Vite-Garcia, Carlos Andres-Vite, and Ramon Mora-Montalvo delivered approximately four kilograms of methamphetamine to Barnum. The drugs had been stored at Vite-Garcia’s stash house in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Barnum was arrested with those drugs after he traveled from Florida to the Atlanta area in a vehicle that Pierre owned.
On March 30, 2020, DEA agents intercepted more telephonic communications in which co-defendant Lourdes Ayala-Cruz called Reyes-Lozano to coordinate the purchase of a kilogram of methamphetamine for co-defendant Jose Paralta-Sanchez. Ayala-Cruz and Paralta-Sanchez drove from North Carolina to the Atlanta area to complete the deal. The transaction occurred on April 1, 2020, in the parking lot of a hardware store in Atlanta, and the drugs were delivered to Paralta-Sanchez by Mora-Montalvo. The Gaston County, North Carolina, Police Department arrested Ayala-Cruz with the drugs as she drove back to her home in North Carolina.
On April 6, 2020, investigators arrested Vite-Garcia, Andres-Vite, and Mora-Montalvo en route from Decatur, Georgia to the stash house in Lawrenceville with approximately 10 kilograms of methamphetamine. The DEA searched the Lawrenceville residence that day pursuant to a warrant. During the search, federal agents seized more methamphetamine, approximately two kilograms of heroin, a digital scale, two firearms, and over $22,000 in U.S. currency.
For his role in the conspiracy, Reyes-Lozano, 34, of Jalisco, Mexico, received a sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Steven D. Grimberg of 17 years, six months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release. Reyes-Lozano was convicted on October 19, 2021, after he pleaded guilty.
Bautista-Toledo, 42, of Michoacán, Mexico, received a sentence of 23 years in prison, followed by 12 years of supervised release. Bautista-Toledo was convicted on August 10, 2022, after pleading guilty just days before his trial was set to begin. Reyes-Lozano’s and Bautista-Toledo’s federal sentences will run consecutive to the state prison sentences the men are already serving.
The defendants’ 12 conspirators previously entered guilty pleas for their roles in the drug trafficking conspiracy and received the following sentences imposed by Judge Grimberg:
- Hector Hugo Miranda-Fernandez, 36, of Jalisco, Mexico, was sentenced to eleven years and one month in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Jessie Miranda-Fernandez, 23, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Luis Carlos Vite-Garcia, 39, of Reynoso, Mexico, was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release.
- Ramon Mora-Montalvo, 29, of Reynoso, Mexico, was sentenced to three years and five months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Carlos Andres-Vite, 23, of Reynoso, Mexico, was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Jhojana Pujol, 26, of Boston, Massachusetts, was sentenced to time served in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Delshawn Morrow, 45, of Thomasville, Georgia, was sentenced to 14 years in prison to run consecutive to any sentence he is currently serving, followed by four years of supervised release.
- Bertha Mae-Daniels, 47, of Thomasville, Georgia, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Jason Lloyd Barnum, 42, of Irvington, New Jersey, was sentenced to 10 years and one month in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Jose Paralta-Sanchez, 53, of Michoacán, Mexico, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Lourdes Suyapa Ayala-Cruz, 44, of Choloma Cortez, Honduras, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Jean Pierre, 46, of Irvington, New Jersey, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Georgia State Patrol, Gaston County, North Carolina, Police Department and Encinal, Texas, Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebeca M. Ojeda and C. Brock Brockington, and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Miguel R. Acosta and Scott McAfee, prosecuted the case.
This effort was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.