Phoenix Police Bust Massive Meth Consignment after getting Tips from Informants about Smuggling Attempt

Phoenix, AZ: Two separate drug deals involving huge quantities of methamphetamine and fentanyl pills from Mexico led to the arrest of four individuals by a Phoenix-area criminal task team.

A Mexican supplier called a confidential Drug Enforcement Administration source on February 20 to initiate the first seizure. According to court papers, the drug dealer offered the source $38,000 for 40 pounds of meth.

A gray Acura TLX allegedly arrived at the address along North 35th Avenue in Phoenix, carrying two individuals later identified as Omar Espinoza Villegas and Israel Sandoval Leyva. The informant was led by the Mexican trafficker to this location.

U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona received a criminal complaint from Sandoval on February 21, alleging that he had admitted to the informant that he had meth in the car, but that the amount was 10 pounds rather than the 40 pounds first agreed upon.

Federal task force agents from the Phoenix Group 16 Dealers stepped in, detained Sandoval and Espinoza, and confiscated 4.6 kg (10.1 lb) of methamphetamine from a 5-gallon bucket in the Acura, according to records.

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Possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance is the charge against both men.

An informant re-informed the DEA the following day on Mexican traffickers attempting to sell methamphetamine in Phoenix. The location on West Fairmont Avenue was this time designated for the delivery of seventy pounds of meth.

Prior to the encounter that took place during the night, agents installed audio and video surveillance equipment on the secret source. According to the court papers, an individual who just identified himself as “Piña” approached the informant, claiming to be unaware of any narcotics trade. The source of supply gave the go-ahead for the informant to speak with the trafficker in Mexico while Piña was watching.

Piña allegedly instructed his courier to deliver 70 pounds of meth within 45 minutes by calling her. In case the confidential source was interested, he also mentioned that he had 10,000 fentanyl pills for sale.

A silver Honda Accord with Piña and two other people later identified as Lucia Montoya Vicario and Cristian Gastelum inside arrived at the scene around 9 p.m. on February 22. Official records indicate that Cervantes reportedly presented a confidential source with two black suitcases containing what appears to be many bundles of suspected methamphetamine and a transparent plastic bag containing what seems to be fentanyl pills.

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Several police cars, their sirens blaring, pulled up alongside the informant’s vehicle as the accused reportedly moved the narcotics inside. Piña fled and managed to evade capture, according to court records, while Montoya and Gastelum were caught unharmed.

According to court filings, the suspects helped law enforcement find a home where they discovered further fentanyl and 42.129 kilos (93 pounds) of meth. More digging uncovered 5.87 extra kilos or 13 pounds.

Two individuals, Montoya and Gastelum, are facing accusations related to the possession of over 500 grams of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

Methamphetamine has long been a major drug concern to Arizona people, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center of the Department of Justice. Mexican suppliers are the mainstays, although the state and its neighbors, California and Nevada, also contribute to the meth supply.

According to the DOJ, local criminal groups, gangs, and independent dealers are responsible for distributing meth, while transnational criminal organizations (drug cartels) handle transportation and wholesale delivery.

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