San Fernando Valley Drug Trafficking: Cocaine, Meth, and Fentanyl Ring Busted

Law enforcement officials arrested four individuals in Los Angeles for operating a drug trafficking ring in the San Fernando Valley, as detailed in a 15-count federal grand jury indictment. This operation involved distributing cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl.

The Operation

The indictment reveals a structured drug trafficking network. Giselle Buraye, 23, from Van Nuys, along with Efren Meraz, Jr., 35, from Sylmar, and Oscar Alejandro Melendez, 50, from Van Nuys, were identified as the operation’s leaders. They were responsible for obtaining the fentanyl pills, methamphetamine, and cocaine. This trio, together with Sarkis Kyurkchian, 40, from North Hollywood, supplied the drugs to Robert Carlton Lavilette, 68, from Ventura, and Max Roman-Betancourt, 41, from Sunland, who then handled street-level sales. Esteban Armas, 36, from Panorama City, was allegedly responsible for storing the narcotics.

Arrests and Arraignments

Authorities arrested Giselle Buraye, Efren Meraz, Jr., Max Roman-Betancourt, and Esteban Armas, who are now scheduled for arraignment in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles. Oscar Alejandro Melendez and Robert Carlton Lavilette will face arraignment in the coming days, while Sarkis Kyurkchian is still at large as a fugitive.

Charges and Seizures

All seven defendants face charges of conspiring to distribute and possess controlled substances with intent to distribute, violating 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and § 846. Buraye faces additional charges related to the possession and distribution of methamphetamine and fentanyl. In the investigation, law enforcement seized 19 kilograms of methamphetamine, 58 kilograms of cocaine, and 3 kilograms of fentanyl powder. They also confiscated over $150,000 in U.S. currency. Additionally, officers found more than 14 firearms, extra narcotics, and substantial cash during searches at five San Fernando Valley locations.

Specific Incidents Linked to the Defendants

The indictment details specific incidents involving the defendants. On April 14, 2021, Buraye and Mendez allegedly sold around 1,000 fentanyl pills. In March 2022, Buraye reportedly sold over 700 fentanyl pills. In May 2022, authorities executed a search warrant at Armas’s residence, leading to the seizure of 2,504 grams of fentanyl, 57 kilograms of cocaine, 10.92 kilograms of methamphetamine, and $152,602 in drug proceeds.

An indictment alleges a defendant’s criminal activity, but each defendant remains presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. Conviction on all charges could lead to a life sentence in federal prison, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years.

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