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Tag: cocaine

DEA Warns That Fentanyl Is Causing ‘Mass-Overdose Events’ Nationwide

The DEA seized 15,000 pounds of fentanyl in one year. Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

The DEA warned local authorities about “mass-overdose events” from fentanyl. 

In a letter to local, state and federal law enforcement, the DEA said there has been a nationwide spike in fentanyl-related mass overdoses, which is defined as three or more overdoses in the same location within a close time frame.

The DEA reported at least seven confirmed mass overdose events nationwide, which resulted in 58 total overdoses and 29 overdose-related deaths. 

The events include six overdoses at a rental property in Wilton Manors, Fla., 21 overdoses – three of them fatal – at a homeless shelter in Austin, Texas, and 10 overdoses – nine of them fatal – on the same block in Washington D.C. 

In many of the events, fentanyl was mixed with cocaine or crack-cocaine, and the drug users did not know they were ingesting fentanyl. 

“These mass-overdose events typically occur in one of the following recurring scenarios: when drug dealers sell their product as “cocaine,” when it actually contains fentanyl; or when drug dealers sell fake prescription pills designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions,” the letter states. “This is creating a nationwide trend where many overdose victims are dying after unknowingly ingesting fentanyl.” 

Raleigh Police Officer Busted for Allegedly Selling Cocaine While On Duty

By Steve Neavling

A Raleigh police officer was arrested Wednesday after allegedly selling cocaine to an undercover informant while he was on duty and wearing his uniform. 

Officer Kevin Rodriguez, 33, a four-year veteran of the department, has been charged with distribution of cocaine and possession of a firearm, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

“When one who wears the badge breaks the law, it breaches the public trust,” U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said at a news conference. “This alleged crime is a serious breach of public trust.”

In November 2021, a tipster said the officer was selling drugs in Raleigh, prompting an investigation by the DEA and Raleigh Police Department. 

According to prosecutors, Rodriquez sold $2,600 worth of cocaine to a confidential informant after driving to the drug deal in his parole car. 

Rodriguez is on administrative leave without pay. 

“The arrest of Mr. Rodriguez is a disappointment to me, the Raleigh Police Department, and the citizens and residents of our community,” Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said. “Although disheartening, I want to ensure transparency to maintain public trust.”

El Chapo’s Wife Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for Helping Drug Kingpin Run Cartel

‘El Chapo’ Guzman

By Steve Neavling

The wife of convicted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday for helping her husband run his cartel and aiding his 2015 escape from a Mexican prison.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, a 31-year-old former beauty queen, pleaded guilty on June 10 to three criminal counts, including conspiracy to traffic cocaine and money laundering.

Prosecutors said Coronel Aispuro was a co-conspirator in the activities of the Sinaloa Cartel.  

Guzman, the longtime head of the Sinaloa, was convicted in 2019 on drug conspiracy charges and sentenced to life in prison. 

Coronel helped Guzman ship drugs and evade capture and later was the main conspirator in the successful plot to break him out of the Altiplano prison in Mexico.  

The FBI’s Washington Field  Office led the investigation, with assistance from FBI Field Offices, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations. 

Feds Seize 220 Pounds of Cocaine, Disrupt Mexico-to-Chicago Drug Pipeline

Plane seized in cocaine bust. Photo: DOJ

By Steve Neavling

Federal agents disrupted a suspected Mexico-to-Chicago drug pipeline, seized a private plane and 220 pounds of cocaine, and arrested three people as part of the Nov. 3 operation, the Justice Department said Tuesday

About 176 pounds of the cocaine were discovered in a vehicle in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Another 44 pounds were found in a hotel room in the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood. 

Feds allege the cocaine had been flown from a private plane in Toluca, Mexico, to the Chicago area. Once the plane arrived at Gary/Chicago International Airport, the cocaine was stuffed in suitcases and driven to downtown Chicago. 

Sebastian Vazquez-Gamez, 30, of Mexico, and Rodrigo Alexis Jimenez-Perez, 25, of Indiana, were arrested in downtown Chicago. Sergio Ivan Blas was arrested in the Indianapolis area.   

DEA Seizes Largest Amount of Cocaine Destined for New York in More Than a Decade

By Steve Neavling

The DEA seized more than a ton of cocaine that was destined for New York, and three people were indicted for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy. 

It was the largest seizure of cocaine headed to New York in more than a decade, according to DEA Special Agent in Charge Roy Donavan. 

“A multimillion-dollar storm of cocaine was seized before it could wreak havoc in the Northeast,” Donovan said in a statement.  “Over one ton of cocaine was seized, making it the largest cocaine seizure destined for the streets of New York in over a decade.  This seizure signifies a shift in the illegal drug landscape in New York, with cocaine seizures rising more than 150% in the last year.  DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to guard against drug trafficking organizations’ tactics and techniques to smuggle drugs into our country.”

Jorge Aponte-Guzman, 33, Nelson Agramonte-Minaya, 37, and Carlos Maisonet-Lopez, 32, face up to life in prison on charges of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine. 

According to federal prosecutors, the drugs were inside 10 large metal law rollers in a rental van. 

“A seizure of this magnitude underscores the critical importance of working together with our federal and local law enforcement partners in the DEA Westchester Task Force, Westchester County Police Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason said. “The tremendous work and dedication of the DEA and Task Force Investigators has interrupted a major drug distribution operation and prevented approximately one ton of dangerous, illegal narcotics from being distributed on the streets of our area.” 

Read the full indictment here.

DEA’s Most Wanted Fugitive, a Columbian Drug Lord, Captured by Military Forces

Dairo Antonio Úsuga was captured in Columbia. Photo: DEA

By Steve Neavling

Dairo Antonio Úsuga, Columbia’s most-wanted drug lord who was also targeted by the U.S. for cocaine trafficking, was arrested in a jungle hideout by military forces.  

President Iván Duque on Saturday announced the arrest of Úsuga, 50, who is widely known by his alias, Otoniel, The New York Times reports.

He is expected to be extradited to the U.S.

Duque compared the arrest to the capture of Pablo Escobar three decades ago. 

“This is the heaviest blow that has been dealt to drug trafficking in this century in our country,” Duque said in a national address. “This blow is comparable only to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.”

Úsuga, who was long on the DEA’s most-wanted fugitives list, was on the run for more than a decade. The DEA was offering a $5 million reward for his capture. 

He’s accused of leading the brutal Clan del Golfo, a band of assassins who gained control of cocaine smuggling routes in northern Columbia. 

With Úsuga in custody, investigators could begin to understand the inner workings of the clandestine criminal organization. 

“His arrest also represents a major victory for Colombia’s security forces, which are confronting growing public mistrust over allegations of human rights abuses, soaring coca cultivation, and rising crime and violence,” Paul J. Angelo, a fellow for Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations said in an email to The New York Times. 

Couple Busted with Block of Cocaine Concealed as Marble Cake, Maine DEA Says

This deceptive cake contained 4 pounds of cocaine. Photo: Maine DEA.

By Steve Neavling

A drug-sniffing dog helped authorities in Maine bust a couple who disguised 4 pounds of cocaine as a marble cake in shiny blue packaging. 

Law enforcement officers were acting on a tip when they pulled over a car in Gardiner, Maine, this week and found the deceptive cake, which included coffee founds to cover up the scent, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said in a news release.

The cocaine has a street value of $200,000.

Police also seized about $1,900 in cash, which authorities believe was from drug sales. 

John Cedeno, 25, of New York, and Chelsy Cochran, 33, of Winslow, Maine, were arrested and charged with drug trafficking. 

Cocaine disguised as cake, with cash from suspect drug sales. Photo: Maine DEA.

‘White Boy Rick’ Sues FBI, Detroit Police in $100M lawsuit Claiming Child Abuse

Richard Wershe Jr.

By Steve Neavling

Richard Wershe Jr., a former federal informant and cocaine dealer known as White Boy Rick, is suing the FBI and Detroit police for alleged child abuse. 

In a federal lawsuit announced Tuesday, Wershe claims the FBI and Detroit police recruited him to snitch at the age of 14. But when law enforcement no longer needed him, Wershe stayed in the drug world before he was busted selling cocaine at the age of 17. 

“Had I not been an informant for the task force, I would never have gotten involved with drug gangs or criminality of any sort,” the lawsuit states.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 1988 and eventually paroled in 2017, only to be sent to a Florida prison to serve time for a 2006 conviction for his role in a car theft while locked up in Michigan. 

Wershe was finally set free on July 20, 2020. 

He is now 52 years old.