Ivanhoe man pleads guilty to federal drug, gun charges

After a year-long investigation, Jonathan Gallegos pled guilty to illegal drug, gun trades alongside the Tulare County Surenos street gang

FRESNO – Gallegos and fellow gang members garnered the attention of the FBI with the illegal trades that stretched across borders.

Jonathan Gallegos, 32, of Ivanhoe pled guilty on Oct. 11 for conspiring to distribute and possess methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, according to U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert. Multiple Tulare County safety departments partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate the crimes of Gallegos and his associates. Gallegos will be sentenced on Jan. 17, 2023, where he will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

This case is part of a larger investigation that took place in 2021, when local, state and federal officers teamed up to investigate the Tulare County Surenos street gang, simply known as “southerners.” The investigation arose from evidence of illegal drugs sourced in Mexico and California that were being traded for firearms from Texas. 

Gallegos took part in this trade, and he and his counterparts were shipping illegal drugs and firearms across the states’ borders. Gallegos and his associates would ship kilograms of marijuana and methamphetamine through post offices of the Central Valley to residences in San Antonio, Texas, a state where possession and use of marijuana is still illegal. The sources in Texas would then send firearms to Gallegos as payment for the illegal drugs. Gallegos is a felon and cannot legally possess a firearm. 

Though Gallegos is facing 15 years to life in prison, the actual case sentence will be determined in court  by the U.S. District Judge Ana de Alba. 

This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, the Tulare County Area Regencies Gun Enforcement Team, the Visalia Police Department,  the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation, the California Highway Patrol’s Special Operations Unit, and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin J. Gilio and Antonio J. Pataca are prosecuting the case. 

An Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation was also involved in the effort to catch Gallegos and his partners. The OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations through a multi-agency approach, partnering with many involved agencies to produce a more efficient, long-term approach to investigations.

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