Last of 15 Defendants Convicted and Sentenced for Prescott-Area Heroin Sales

“Operation Blackwater,” a two-year federal and state investigation focusing on eliminating the heroin trade in the Prescott and Prescott Valley area has wrapped up with the conviction and sentencing of 15 area drug runners.

The last of the 15, Jaime Rene Calderon, 28, of Prescott, Arizona, was sentenced by United States District Judge Steven P. Logan to three concurrent terms of 150 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. A federal jury in Phoenix found Calderon guilty of three counts of aiding and abetting the sale of heroin on three separate occasions.

“The nationwide epidemic of opioid overdoses impacts small and large communities alike,” United States Attorney Michael Bailey told this reporter in an email.  “Collaborative investigations like Operation Blackwater that bring together state and federal agencies will make Prescott and Prescott Valley a safer place for everyone.”

The Department of Public Safety (DPS), with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), conducted “Operation Blackwater” that focused on dismantling the criminal activities of the Yavapai County Creekside Chicanos gang. Evidence at trial proved that Calderon, while incarcerated at the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry in 2017 for an unrelated offense, recruited two associates outside the prison to sell heroin for profit. Calderon was the last of 15 defendants to be convicted and sentenced for heroin possession with the intent to distribute in connection with the investigation.

“We are grateful for the unwavering collaboration with our federal partners throughout Arizona,” Heston Silbert, Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, told me. “We successfully leveraged each other’s investigative resources and effectively displaced a dangerous criminal organization.”

In addition to Calderon, the following individuals were convicted of Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin and sentenced as follows:

•             Adrian Anderson, 38, sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release

•             Erbey Balderaz, III, 34, sentenced to 31 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             Angela Blackwater, 46, sentenced to time served followed by three years of supervised release

•             Alisia Gamez, 26, sentenced to 15 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             Nicholas Cowan, 33, sentenced to18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             John Delgado, 33, sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             Andre Enciso, 37, sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             Lisa Gazzam, 40, sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             Veronica James, 39, sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             Craig Livermore, 35, sentenced to three years of probation

•             Bryant Montoya, 26, sentenced to 66 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             Marcos Ochoa, 24, sentenced to 36 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             Yeni Guevara Solis, 28, sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release

•             Evangeline Wilson, 32, sentenced to18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release

“We are thankful for the impact this collaborative, long-term investigation has made in the Prescott community,” Sean Kaul, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Phoenix Division told me. “Working together, we were able to get dangerous drugs and dangerous individuals off the streets. The FBI is proud to work with our state, local, and federal partners and will continue to do so to protect the communities we serve in the fight against drugs.”

Prosecutors patted co-investigators on the back saying, “Arizona DPS (Prescott) and the FBI conducted the investigation into these matters. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Covault, District of Arizona, Phoenix handled the prosecutions with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Crowley on the Calderon case.” Noticeably absent from the kudos was the office of Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Sheriffs and local police. When I asked County Attorney Sheila Polk’s assistant if Polk would care to comment, I got no response.

Five other Arizona federal judges handled the sentencing: U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow, U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi, U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes, U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell, and U.S. District Judge Diane J. Humetewa.

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