Seventeen people have been indicted in federal court in Oakland on charges of operating a methamphetamine ring in Contra Costa County.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag is scheduled to hold a news conference at San Pablo City Hall on Wednesday to discuss the indictment, which was issued by a federal grand jury in Oakland on April 28.
Most of the defendants were arraigned before a federal magistrate in Oakland this week and pleaded not guilty. Most are being held in custody for the time being.
All 17 defendants are accused of conspiring to possess and distribute methamphetamine between Sept. 27, 2010, and April 15 of this year. They also face individual counts of possessing the drug with the intent to distribute it.
Sixteen of the defendants previously were charged with methamphetamine possession in criminal complaints filed between April 15 and 18.
The complaints allege the ring members lived in, stashed methamphetamine in or sold the drug in a number of Contra Costa County cities, including Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules, Rodeo, Martinez and Antioch.
Last week's indictment replaced the criminal complaints and added the conspiracy charges to the possession counts.
The defendants are Joseph Abbate, Sean Beckett, Mark Bruno, Reginald Carter, Tom Cordova, Billie Dempsey, Edward Espiritu, James Esver, Michael Lawrence, Honorato Padilla, Deonzelle Pierce, David Reams, Gary Rondeau, Ramon Rubio,
Michael Sanchez, Magen Schwartz and Juan Villabos Lopez.