SHREVEPORT – Two Texas men were sentenced to 63 months in prison Tuesday for trafficking more than 10 kilograms fentanyl through Louisiana, U.S.Attorney David C. Joseph announced.
Felipe Rodriguez, 22, of McAllen, Texas, and Brandon Montoya, 24, of Kaufman, Texas, were sentenced by Elizabeth E. Foote for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. They were also sentenced to five years of supervised release.
According to the guilty plea, a Louisiana State Police trooper stopped a vehicle on May 10, 2018 traveling on Interstate-20 eastbound in Bossier Parish. Rodriguez was the driver, and Montoya was the passenger. During a search of the vehicle, 10 one-kilogram packages containing pure fentanyl and a fentanyl derivative were found.
Rodriguez and Montoya told agents they were approached in Mexico about work, asked to drive to California to obtain the drugs and then take the drugs to Atlanta, Ga., where they would be paid for the delivery. The defendants understood that the work they were asked to do meant transporting the deadly narcotics. Both defendants pleaded guilty on September 13, 2018.
“The seizure of these drugs and the prosecution of these defendants is part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing fight against fentanyl and other deadly opioids,” Joseph stated. “These drugs are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States — more than even car accidents. This case alone involved enough fentanyl to kill every person in the state of Louisiana. I want to thank the dedicated law enforcement agents and prosecutor for the arrest and conviction of these defendants.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin. Because of its powerful opioid properties, fentanyl is also diverted for abuse. Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are purchasing fentanyl, which often results in overdose deaths. Clandestinely-produced fentanyl is primarily manufactured in Mexico. For more information about fentanyl, visit www.dea.gov/factsheets/fentanyl.
The DEA, Homeland Security Investigations and Louisiana State Police investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany E. Fields prosecuted the case.