SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The Department of Justice filed charges against 33 individuals in connection with a massive drug ring that operated between Mexico and the Salt Lake Valley.

Thirty-three members and associates of the Norteño street gang are accused of distributing heroin and methamphetamine in the Salt Lake Valley.

During the investigation, agents seized meth and heroin headed to Salt Lake City from drug cartels in Mexico and drug proceeds from Utah head south to the cartels.

Twenty-seven individuals are charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin or methamphetamine or both. Six other individuals face five separate drug and weapons-related charges.

The charges are the result of an investigation that began in June 2018 when the Metro Gang Unit and federal agents began targeting drug and firearm trafficking activities of Salt Lake City-area gang members, specifically Norteños.


According to the complaint, the first Norteño group in Utah was documented in the mid-1980s. Unaligned or independent street gangs began associating under the Norteño umbrella in the early 2000s.

Federal officials said there are about 10 active Norteño sub-sets with about 100-150 active members. According to the complaint, Norteño is responsible for drive-by shootings, assaults, robberies, and homicides.


Investigators identified Joe Gomez aka Norte Joe, 32, and Denny Kandt aka Casper, 41, were working to distribute drugs from Mexico-based traffickers Pedro LNU (Last Name Unknown), Luis LNU, and LA-based trafficker known as UM4192.

Gomez and Kandt then allegedly supplied drugs to various Salt Lake City-based sub-distributors. Investigators said 26 distributors or couriers were involved in Gomez’s operation. Many of them are known gang members or gang affiliates.

Over the course of the investigation, agents seized both drug deliveries of meth and heroin and drug money. Investigators believed the seizures “represent a fraction of the drug trafficking carried out” by Gomez and his associates.


Joe Gomez (aka Norte Joe), 32
Denny Kandt (aka Casper), 41
Leticia Chidester, 48
Trevor Marsh, 55
Jessica Rice, 43
Angel Trudy Cordova, 37
David Calderon aka Menace, 29
Joshua Lee Kendall (aka Criminal)
Melquiadez Ramirez (aka Thumper), 26
Michele Vincent Gatti (aka Mike), 45
Sulayman Sarr (aka Africa), 32
Zachariah Matthew Coles (aka Zig Zag), 43
Lisa Nicole Valdez Garcia, 31
Steven Edward Manolito, 31
Patrick Austin, 50
Daniel Movahhed (aka Maniac), 32
Jerry Lewis Jackson, 56
Mark Russell Cordova, 36
Tony Devaugh Linam (aka Hoodlum), 36
David Soto-Acosta (aka Droops), 23
Nicholas Den MacNeil (aka Nico), 28
Ashley Marie Rodriquez, 30
Roy Pearson, 42
Dee Dee Cordova, 47

Sarah Ruth Gordon, 31
Mayra Alejandra Gomez, 35
Colton McBride (aka Lil Bandit), 26

Rudy Garcia (aka Rascal), 29
Billie Len Collins, 34
Davis Toki aka T-Down, 38
Rex Myers aka Lazy, 39
Travis Benjamin Torres (aka Shorty), 41
Tessie Shallamar Montoya, 37