A dozen people accused in a scheme to smuggle large quantities of methamphetamine into the Inland Empire from Mexico were arrested Wednesday on federal drug charges.

Timoteo Gomez, 48, and Javier Rodriguez, 54, both of Riverside, and the others were taken into custody by FBI agents and are slated to make their initial appearances at U.S. District Court in both Riverside and Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon on a single count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine detailed in a grand jury indictment returned on May 5.

They are among 19 defendants recently indicted in the case. Three other defendants were already in federal or state custody on unrelated charges. Four defendants remain on the run.

From April to August 2020, Gomez and Rodriguez allegedly purchased methamphetamine from suppliers in Mexico as well as in Los Angeles and Riverside counties, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

They allegedly smuggled nearly 50 pounds of methamphetamine in April 2020 from Mexico across the U.S port of entry at Calexico and into Riverside County. Then in May 2020, another co-conspirator allegedly attempted to drive a load containing about 90 pounds of methamphetamine through the San Ysidro port of entry, according to federal prosecutors.

Law enforcement seized more than 150 pounds of methamphetamine and $31,035 in cash during the operation.

Also included the indictment, some of the defendants are also charged with conspiracy to import methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, being a felon in possession of ammunition and attempted international money laundering.

If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in federal prison sentence or a maximum life sentence.

Two additional defendants were charged in separate indictments in March in connection with this case. They were arrested in April on charges of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and are currently in federal custody. One has pleaded guilty and the other is awaiting trial.

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