U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill sentenced MS-13 gang member Claudia Lizaola to 10 years in prison Monday for drug trafficking.
O’Neill handed down the sentence at the federal courthouse in Fresno.
According to court documents, Lizaola was a member of La Mara Salvatrucha, a violent criminal street gang that engages in racketeering activity, including murder, kidnapping, extortion, and drug trafficking.
Lizaola pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine to MS-13 members in Mendota.
Co-defendant Brenda Morales pleaded guilty to being an alien in possession of a firearm. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 13.
Fourteen Co-Defendants Face Trial in April
There are 14 co‑defendants scheduled for trial on April 14.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ross Pearson, Kathleen Servatius, and Kimberly Sanchez are prosecuting this and related cases. Fresno County Senior Deputy District Attorney Dennis Lewis is working with the team and prosecuting related cases in Fresno County Superior Court.
Operation Blue Inferno
In August 2018, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the arrests of 25 MS-13 members in the Mendota area. They were charged with 14 murders, as well as kidnapping and drug trafficking. The enforcement action was dubbed Operation Blue Inferno.
“This is a good day,” Scott at the time. “An extremely violent street gang, which has terrorized western Fresno County, has been completely dismantled.”
Law enforcement served 19 search warrants in Mendota, Kerman and Los Angeles. Also, a search of 37 cells in 11 state prisons yielded cell phones, drugs, and weapons.