A federal jury in Anchorage has convicted Juan Manuel Mendiola, 28, of conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, 100 grams or more of heroin, and 50 grams or more of crack cocaine, among related drug crimes, the FBI announced today.
The jury also convicted Mendiola of illegally possessing six firearms, including two fully automatic MAC-10 machine guns. The multi-agency investigation of Mendiola spanned three years, from July 2005 through September 2008, and involved numerous agencies such as the Anchorage Police Department's Drug Enforcement and Special Assignment Units, the DEA, ATF, and the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force.
Mendioloa received the guilty verdict June 18, following a trial that began June 7 and involved 38 prosecution witnesses. The testimony from witnesses revealed that Mendiola ordered the drugs from areas in California such as Van Nuys and Lancaster.
On March 13, 2007, a local shipping store owner in California discovered six kilograms of cocaine and one pound of methamphetamine in a parcel bound for an address in the Muldoon section of Anchorage. The DEA seized the package but could not do an undercover delivery, as the sender of the package apparently warned Mendiola of the interception of the package. At trial, testimony from cooperating witnesses, as well as photographs taken at the time, linked Mendiola to the seizure.
Mendiola was also linked to sales of cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine by accomplice Bernard White (a.k.a. "Garcia") during an Anchorage PD investigation in October 2007. Testimony showed that Mendiola was White's source of drugs, and surveillance video of one of the drug sales revealed Mendiola's presence in the passenger seat.
During White's arrest on October 31, 2007, the Anchorage PD executed a search warrant at a house on the lower hillside in Anchorage, and recovered approximately 1/2 kilogram of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and five firearms, including two MAC-10 machine guns, a Kel-Tec rifle, and two semi-automatic pistols. Mendiola and accomplice Phonesavanh Vongthongdy (a.k.a. "Noi"), who had just left the residence prior to the execution of the search warrant, were linked to both the firearms and the drugs.
Testimony at trial revealed that, after these seizures, Mendiola and his girlfriend Seirosa Milo (a.k.a. "Losa") imposed a curfew on another accomplice that they feared would cooperate with the police. When the accomplice broke curfew on one occasion, he was beaten by other members of the conspiracy.
The accomplice's father reported the incident to the Anchorage police as a kidnaping, and the SWAT team responded to the residence on Cordova Street near Dowling. Upon approaching the residence, a police officer looking through a window saw Mendiola coming to the door with a gun in his hand. A five-hour standoff ensued.
Ultimately, a police dog was sent into the residence. Mendiola came out of the residence with his seven-year-old son in front of him. The police dog jumped around the boy and bit Mendiola. Crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia were found in the residence, but testimony at trial indicated that the gun Mendiola was carrying was hidden under the house.
Mendiola was initially arrested, but was later released and subsequently became a fugitive. In August 2008, the DEA seized approximately 12 ounces of heroin in a package bound for an address in Mountain View. Milo ultimately received the package and was arrested.
Finally, on Sept. 19, 2008, the Anchorage PD's Special Assignment Unit tracked the defendant to an address in Mountain View and obtained a search warrant. The defendant was found inside the residence with accomplice Timothy Moore (a.k.a. "T.J."). Officers found a large bag containing approximately one kilogram of crystal methamphetamine and 10 ounces of heroin. Two loaded semi-automatic pistols were found in the kitchen; drug paraphernalia and approximately $50,000 in cash were also found in the bedroom. Mendiola was arrested, and then was indicted in federal court.