Operation “Hotline Bling” Disrupts Sinaloa Cartel Cell in the IE

Published: 04/24/2024

Operation “Hotline Bling” Disrupts Sinaloa Cartel Cell in the IE

Culminates in 15 arrests, large fentanyl and methamphetamine seizures

Enough fentanyl to produce 10 million lethal doses



LOS ANGELES – The Drug Enforcement Administration Los Angeles Field Division today announced the results of a multi-agency investigation targeting a Sinaloa drug trafficking network operating within the Inland Empire. Operation “Hotline Bling,” which started in early 2023, culminated last week with 15 arrests and significant drug seizures, including methamphetamine and quantities of fentanyl that potentially could produce 10 million lethal doses.


In March 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration Riverside District Office and the Riverside Police Department, with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service, initiated Operation “Hotline Bling.” During the investigation, agents seized a total of approximately 376 pounds of methamphetamine, 37.4 pounds of fentanyl, 600,000 fentanyl tablets, 1.4 kilograms of cocaine, and seven firearms. The drugs seized in this investigation have an estimated “street value” of $16 million.


The investigation culminated in three federal indictment that charge a total of six defendants and the issuance of 16 state arrest warrants. During the course of the investigation, agents developed information regarding a corrupt Riverside County Correctional Deputy. The DEA and Riverside Police provided investigative leads to the Riverside County Sheriff Department, ultimately assisting in the arrest of the deputy while he was in possession of 104 pounds of fentanyl pills.


Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45; a single two-milligram dose can be fatal. It is estimated that this investigation prevented the distribution of more than 10 million potentially lethal doses of fentanyl within the Inland Empire and throughout the United States.


Matthew Allen, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Los Angeles Field Division, commended DEA RDO agents, Riverside Police and all partners involved in Operation Hotline Bling. “The steadfast collaboration, determination and long hours poured into this operation speak to the vehemence of our investigators and partners. We are committed to keeping dangerous drugs off our streets and are intent on holding all substance laws violators accountable,” said Allen.


“We will continue leveraging every available resource to disrupt drug distribution trying to make its way into our Riverside neighborhoods,” stated Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez.  “Our collaboration with the DEA is not just about enforcement, but it’s about safeguarding the future of our community and ensuring that Riverside remains a safe and thriving place for people to live, work, and raise families.”


“As fentanyl and methamphetamine continue to ravage our communities, we will continue to target drug trafficking organizations that put profit over people’s lives,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “The indictment filed by my office alleges that three men shipped kilogram-quantity parcels of narcotics through the United States Postal Service. Those who traffic in dangerous narcotics must be held accountable.”


Defendant Edwin Michael Alva, age 31 of San Jacinto, made a court appearance on April 19, 2024. Alva was given bond. However, due to a Riverside County narcotics warrant, Alva was detained and transported to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. Defendant Christopher Antonio Arreola-Alvarado, age 25 of Perris, is in the custody of the U.S. Marshall Service and is awaiting transport from the Eastern District of California to the Central District of California. Defendant Jose Javier Raya Cortez, age 21 of Perris, was charged by the State of California in Riverside County for violations of the California Health and Safety Code; he was also federally charged in the District of Delaware; he is currently detained, pending extradition to Delaware.


The multi-jurisdictional investigation was conducted by the DEA Riverside District Office, the Riverside Police Department, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from DEA Wilmington District Office, DEA San Diego Field Division Narcotics Task Force, DEA San Jose District Office, and DEA Special Operations Division.