Federal indictments were unsealed against 19 defendants accused in a heroin distribution and money laundering conspiracy in Orange County, 12 of whom were arrested Tuesday.
The other defendants in Operation Horse Caller who were charged in the grand jury indictment are fugitives, officials said. The defendants in custody pleaded not guilty at arraignment and were scheduled for trial Sept. 7.
Julio Cesar Martinez of Riverside, 43, and his brother Victor Martinez of Hemet, 44, are the alleged owners and operators of a heroin distribution organization in the county that continued through April, according to the federal indictment returned May 26.
Two of the defendants — Maricela Guerrero of Santa Ana, 53, and Marla Portillo Cordova of Santa Ana, 34 — worked in a call center taking orders for heroin from dealers, prosecutors alleged.
Several other defendants were involved in delivering the narcotic to buyers and collecting money in exchange for a cut of the profits or heroin, the indictment alleged.
The organization allegedly distributed at least $2 million worth of heroin.
Julio Martinez and Victor Martinez allegedly laundered the profits from the heroin dealing into bank accounts held by Cordova and others, federal prosecutors alleged. They are also accused of structuring the deposits under $10,000 into multiple banks to elude federal requirements to report the transactions.
Some of the profits were laundered through the acquisition of property in Hemet, prosecutors alleged.
Martinez allegedly obtained the heroin from Roberto Romero Sanchez in Mexico and Victor Romero in the United States. The conspiracy allegedly involved couriers to sneak the drug from Mexico to Orange County.
The defendants are:
–Julio Cesar Martinez;
–Victor Romero Jr.;
–Martin Cervantes Romero;
–Roberto Romero Sanchez;
–Marla Portillo Cordova;
–Alicia Carillo Gonzalez;
–Francisco Serrano and;