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Hispanic Gang Nailed for Drug Trafficking
in Johnson City

U.S. Attorney's Office May 26, 2011, Eastern District of Tennessee (865) 545-4167

GREENEVILLE, TN-Crisantos Nicholas Bautista, 30, and Enrique Mendoza-Barone, 23, of Asheville, North Carolina, both entered guilty pleas to methamphetamine conspiracy charges in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville, before the Honorable Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Judge, on May 23, 2011. Bautista has a sentencing hearing set for September 19, 2011, and Mendoza-Barone has a sentencing hearing set for October 3, 2011. Maria Antonia Manzanarez Nunez, 28, of Asheville, North Carolina, has also been convicted in this case on methamphetamine conspiracy charges and has a sentencing hearing set for August 1, 2011.

Plea agreements filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville state that Mendoza-Barone delivered methamphetamine for Bautista. On January 12, 2011, Bautista and Nunez distributed eight ounces of methamphetamine in Johnson City, Tennessee, to a confidential informant working for law enforcement. A 16-ounce methamphetamine buy was planned for February 3, 2011, to also take place in Johnson City with a confidential informant and Bautista.

Law enforcement agents initiated and conducted surveillance on Bautista and Nunez as they left their residence in Asheville, North Carolina, and the 16 ounces of methamphetamine was found during a traffic stop of the vehicle in which Bautista and Nunez were traveling in Carter County, Tennessee, later that day. A subsequent search of their Asheville, North Carolina residence resulted in the seizure of another eight ounces of methamphetamine and a firearm.

The convictions are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Johnson City Office, assisted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement; the First Judicial Drug Task Force; the Elizabethton Police Department; the Erwin Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff's Office; the Tennessee Highway Patrol; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Asheville, North Carolina Office; the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Asheville; and the Asheville Police Department.

Some of the task force officers who worked on the investigation were provided funding by the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a program funded by the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor.

United States Attorney Bill Killian said: "This case is an example of the multi-jurisdictional state, local, and federal cooperation among law enforcement agencies that results in the successful investigation, prosecution, and conviction of serious drug offenders in Northeast Tennessee. We continue to applaud the efforts of all the agencies involved, and commend Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor for achieving the convictions."

To report drug crimes or learn more about illegal drug diversion and the problem it is causing our country, visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.

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