Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, October 2, 2023

Fuerza Regida Cancels Concert In Tijuana After Receiving Death Threats

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The group was allegedly threatened by the same criminal group that threatened Peso Pluma.

The group received threats through a narco message 

Despite the success they are currently enjoying due to their collaboration with Shakira, the corrido group Fuerza Regida is experiencing one of the most worrying moments of their career, as they were allegedly threatened by a criminal group.

According to several media outlets in Tijuana, on Tuesday, October 2, a banner appeared in the city warning the band not to perform at the Estadio Caliente this coming Friday, a show they had been scheduled to play for months.

In the message, very similar to the one that Peso Pluma received a few weeks ago, they demanded that they not set foot in the city, otherwise this concert would be the last of their lives and their career. In addition, the note was signed with the initials CJNG, who also allegedly threatened Peso Pluma.

Unlike the interpreter of "Lady Gaga", Fuerza Regida did not hesitate for a minute and only moments after this message was released, they published an official statement on their social networks, announcing that this date was officially canceled.

Without going into details, the group revealed that the concert would not take place, for reasons beyond their control: "Event in Tijuana cancelled for reasons beyond our control. Thank you very much my people" they wrote.

Narco message reads as follows:

This message goes out to those faggots from Fuerza Regida. We're going to fucking kill you guys on October the 6th in Tijuana. It'll be the last fucking time of your miserable lives if you appear in public. If you show your faces on that day we will kill you. 

Sincerely, CJNG

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U.S. Admits Fentanyl Demand Problem And Asks Mexico For More 'Narco' Captures

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

 State Department spokesman Matthew Miller asked the Mexican government to extradite Los Chapitos.

The United States said it wants to see more captures of drug traffickers and more fentanyl labs dismantled by Mexico as proof that collaboration against drug trafficking is working.

In his daily press briefing, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller also admitted that the U.S. has a drug demand problem that also needs to be addressed.

"We recognize that we have a demand problem in the United States and that we have to take steps to reduce it. At the same time, we have to take steps with our Mexican partners to combat trafficking and this includes destroying labs in Mexico and catching traffickers at the border and inside Mexico," he said.

Miller said Joe Biden's administration would like to see "progress" on all of these indicators.

United States experiences fentanyl consumption crisis

The spokesman stressed that the United States and Mexico have "increased cooperation" against synthetic drugs and will continue to do so because fentanyl is the number one cause of death among U.S. youth.

The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, and the Attorney General, Merrick Garland, will travel to Mexico this Thursday to participate in the High Level Dialogue on Security between both governments.

SRE highlights extradition of Ovidio Guzman and fentanyl seizure at the UN

At the center of the meetings will be the crisis of fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that, according to Washington, is manufactured by Mexican cartels using chemicals purchased in China and then trafficked to the United States.

More than 70,000 people died last year in the United States from overdoses of this substance.

López Obrador insists, however, that fentanyl is not produced in Mexico, but arrives directly from the Asian giant, despite the fact that his government has dismantled several laboratories of this drug.

Shipment of fentanyl found in Nogales.

As a sign of cooperation, on September 15 the Mexican government approved the extradition to the United States of Ovidio Guzmán, son of Joaquín el Chapo Guzmán, where he is accused of leading the Sinaloa Cartel and trafficking fentanyl.

The United States is now requesting the capture and extradition of Chapo's other three sons, whom it calls the Chapitos.


Inside Dan Crenshaw’s Cartel Task Force, Where 'Kill Or Capture' Is End Goal

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Former Navy SEAL officer and now-Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) is leading a group of hand-selected House Republicans in creating a fail-proof strategy to take down, even kill, the Mexican drug cartel members behind America's fentanyl crisis.

Crenshaw, who represents Houston's Woodlands area, knows the end goal is to come up with comprehensive legislation that leads to taking the transnational criminal organizations down, but his path there is a challenging one.

"I'm going into this with an open mind because we have to be bipartisan, and we have to actually get the facts straight and see what will work best, and maybe it's my solution, maybe it's not," Crenshaw said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. "I'm not interested in just passing a bill out of the House. I'm interested in actually passing law. So we're doing our best to include Democrats."

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tapped Crenshaw in July to oversee the task force after the two reached an agreement that if the congressman voted for the House’s border security bill, H.R. 2, he could lead the panel. Crenshaw had opposed the bill because he believed it did not go far enough on the cartels who are behind the burgeoning border crisis, as well as the No.1 cause of death in Americans ages 18 to 45: fentanyl.

The task force begins its travel abroad next week with a trip to Colombia to see how the South American nation eliminated much of its drug cartel problem in the 1980s and 1990s.

"They’re 30 years ahead of where Mexico is, theoretically," he said and added that there are big lessons to be learned in how Colombia overcame its cartel problem and ways to implement similar actions against those in Mexico, particularly the Sinaloa cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

In early November, the task force will visit Mexico, where Crenshaw hopes to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, but much could go wrong between now and then, particularly given the political fights that GOP presidential candidates are waging over the issue. Drug cartels were a hot topic during this week's Republican presidential debate.

"I encourage my colleagues and people running for president to make sure that the goal is to actually kill the cartel members and not to just increase their visibility and raise money," Crenshaw said. "Some candidates, like Nikki Haley, others, are pretty well-read people, right? They would go about this the right way and talk about it the right way."

Discussing how to tackle the Mexican cartels and keeping it a major issue in the election could backfire for the country's end-all goal of eliminating them.

"There is a point where your rhetoric can actually be counterproductive. A lot of people do not understand Latin American culture, and they certainly don't understand how the Mexicans operate," he said. "There's some finesse that has to happen there."

Crenshaw has led a charge in the House with his own cartel-focused legislation but said he has, at times, been misunderstood, and it was those kinds of misunderstandings that threaten to ruin the task force's work before the real work has even begun.

"I've been accused of all this crap by the president of Mexico himself, wrongly accused that I'm calling for unilateral action. Now look, if [the cartels] got so bad and [the] Mexicans just refused to work with us, you can't take that kind of option off the table. But our first step in all of this is a much more serious military cooperation with the Mexican Armed Forces," Crenshaw said. "We have to be very clear about that because the Mexican politicians will take our words and twist them and use it for political gain. And then they won't go after the cartels the way we need them to."

Earlier this year, Crenshaw debuted a bill to stomp out fentanyl production and smuggling by Mexican criminal organizations. The Declaring War on the Cartels Act of 2023 was formulated to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.

It would drastically expand the U.S. government's ability to go after cross-border organized crime rings, known as cartels, but it would stop short of declaring them terrorist organizations, which further-right conservatives have pushed for because it could make Mexicans eligible to make refugee or asylum claims.

Crenshaw anticipates completing the task force’s report later this year or in early 2024. Recommendations would then be transformed into legislation. Members on the task force have purposely been pulled from relevant committees across the House and will play a leading role in winning support from Democrats.

Washington Examiner

Rocha Assures That There Was No Operation In Badiraguato

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Governor Rubén Rocha Moya assured that there was no operation in Badiraguato on Saturday, but rather a troop rearrangement.

"They were not looking for anyone in particular," he said.

He pointed out that there were helicopter overflights, but they were carrying personnel because new elements arrived.

The agents who arrived, he said, replaced those who were there.

The new commander of the Ninth Military Zone, Porfirio Fuentes Vélez, sent a contingent and they made a change, he said.

"It is an adjustment operation to bring in new military personnel to replace those who have already left," he said.

Over the weekend, residents of the mountainous areas of Badiraguato shared videos in which helicopters can be seen flying over the areas of the Golden Triangle.

Rio Doce

In Narco Banners, Los Chapitos Faction of Sinaloa Cartel Announce Ban on Fentanyl in Sinaloa

By "El Huaso" for Borderland Beat

Several plastic narco banners signed by "Los Chapitos" banning the "sale, manufacturing, or transport of fentanyl" were found hanging from public places around Sinaloa this Monday morning. 

Dismembered Body With Narco Message From Comandante 18 Thrown from Moving Vehicle in Acapulco, Guerrero

By "El Huaso" for Borderland Beat

Image: @CharroNegro_Mx Twitter
The dismembered body of a man was found next to a threatening narco message on a street in Acapulco, Guerrero. According to the police report, the body was thrown from a moving vehicle. The name on the message "El Comandante 18", may refer to a nephew of Rafael Caro Quintero.

Monterrey Gangs: Bodies Dumped In Mexico's Business Capital

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Forensic experts were called to seven sites where human remains had been dumped

The mutilated remains of up to a dozen people were found strewn across the northern Mexican city of Monterrey on Tuesday.

Messages left with the remains suggest the victims were killed as part of a purge within a gang.

Monterrey is the industrial and business capital of Mexico and the seat of many large companies.

Earlier this year, Tesla announced it would open a huge car factory in the city in 2024.

The discovery of the dismembered bodies at seven separate sites across Monterrey came after a drop in the level of violence in recent years.

In the early 2010s, a number of drug cartels fought for control of the city.

In their attempts to scare their rivals, the cartels would hang bodies from bridges or leave body parts next to signs warning off their enemies.

Local media said that next to the remains found on Tuesday there were signs referring to attempts to infiltrate a cartel.

The messages were signed by the Cartel del Noreste (Northeast Cartel).

Police did not confirm the veracity of the messages but said that a cartel from neighbouring Tamaulipas state was behind the grisly dumping of the bodies.

The Northeast Cartel, which is based in Tamaulipas, is thought to have emerged from the Zetas crime syndicate.

Its leader, Juan Gerardo Treviño Chávez, was arrested by the Mexican security forces in March 2022 and deported to the United States.

It appears that since then, rival gangs have tried to infiltrate the cartel he led.

As well as drug trafficking, the Northeast Cartel terrorises migrants in its powerbase of Nuevo Laredo and Tamaulipas state.

It kidnaps migrants heading through Mexico to the United States and demands thousands of dollars from their families to release them alive.

bbc news

Sunday, October 1, 2023

U.S. To Launch A Push To Stop Fentanyl Threat

"Char" for Borderland Beat 

This article was translated and reposted from RIODOCE 

In the 'Strategy to Combat Illicit Opioids', the U.S. Office of Homeland Security Investigations reveals that its personnel have offices throughout Mexico and will increase presence, collaboration and investigations to combat drug smuggling.

Personnel from the Homeland Security Investigations Agency (HSI) operate in offices located throughout Mexico to combat the production and trafficking of fentanyl to the United States.

In the "Strategy to Combat Illicit Opioids" document, presented last Tuesday, September 19, HSI details that its agents are strategically assigned in 91 offices in 54 countries to detect and stop the fentanyl production and trafficking chain, including Mexico, where most of the fentanyl entering the U.S. is produced.

"HSI will accomplish these objectives through its robust international presence, and includes hundreds of HSI special agents and HSI national foreign service investigators strategically assigned to 91 offices in 54 countries. This includes personnel assigned to offices located throughout Mexico, where most of the fentanyl that wreaks havoc on Americans is produced, as well as offices in China and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, where most precursor chemicals originate or transit."

Those agents, he adds, are part of the Transnational Criminal Investigative Units (TCIU), HSI's primary mechanism that seeks to prevent precursor chemical trafficking, shut down clandestine fentanyl labs and arrest drug traffickers.

"HSI Mexico's TCIU is a key asset in the fight against illicit opioids destined for U.S. communities. Officers and prosecutors assigned to Mexico TCIUs are deployed to locations throughout the country in furtherance of high-profile investigations targeting Mexican cartels and other TCOs," he explains.

"HSI's TCIUs are comprised of host country law enforcement officers, including customs officials, immigration officials and prosecutors who undergo a strict vetting process."

He adds that through the Transnational Criminal Investigation Units they facilitate information sharing and bilateral investigations involving the illicit production and trafficking of opioids and the associated crimes of arms trafficking, money laundering and cybercrime.

"TCIUs enhance the host country's ability to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in transnational criminal activities within their jurisdictions, often resulting in disruptions of criminal enterprises that also engage in illegal activities in the U.S."

At the May 31 morning conference, a day after the meeting with White House Government Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador denied that there is U.S. government interference in the country in the fight against fentanyl.

"Mexico's foreign policy is defined in the Constitution in Article 89: non-intervention, self-determination of peoples, peaceful solution in disputes, cooperation for development," he said.

In the "Strategy to Combat Illicit Opioids," the Department of Homeland Security Investigations Agency proposes to expand HSI Mexico's Transnational Criminal Investigation Unit to enable additional activities against illicit opioids.

"In FY 2025, HSI Mexico will aggressively expand Mexico's TCIU and implement several operational changes to improve productivity and focus on illicit opioid manufacturing."

The strategy also calls for utilizing the Bulk Cash Smuggling Center (BCSC) to combat cash smuggling by Mexican cartels and other Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs).

"The BCSC operates strategic programs that leverage advanced data analytics, interagency partnerships and law enforcement technology systems to identify complex money laundering networks and provide support for financial investigations," it states.

"In FY 2023, HSI will emphasize the regular release of intelligence products specific to money laundering and illicit asset movement. These products will be designed to increase awareness of emerging trends in TCO financial networks, provide geographically specific financial intelligence, and publicize supporting programs."

The Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Investigations plans to create the Cross Border Financial Crime Center (CBFCC), which will be a partnership between U.S. federal agencies, foreign agencies, regulatory organizations, banks and other financial institutions, and U.S. financial technology companies with the goal of better information sharing on financial crimes and the illicit use of cryptocurrencies.

The border with Mexico will see an increase in personnel to detect narcotics entering by land, air, and sea.

"HSI will deploy additional special agents to southwest border POEs in FY 2023 in response to the increased rate of non-intrusive vehicle inspection (NII) required by the U.S. Ports Security Act. Vehicular smuggling continues to be a primary method of illegally moving illicit opioids into the United States."

The document notes that while most of the drug precursor chemicals used by Mexican cartels come from Asia, some have been found to be shipped from the United States.

"Currently, Mexican cartels generally obtain chemicals used in drug production from Asia. However, there are indications that certain key chemicals originate in the United States. HSI will establish the Chemical Industry Outreach Project to proactively engage domestic chemical companies that export licit precursor chemicals to Mexico and Central America to counter this trend," he adds.

Operations will also be expanded to dismantle precursor chemical supply chains from Asia and Central America.

"Disrupting the narcotics production supply chain during the acquisition phase has a substantial impact on the amount of drugs found at our borders and on our streets. HSI will continue to target commercial air and maritime transportation modes based on investigative information. The resulting interdictions deny cartels the materials needed to produce narcotics and help gather the evidence needed to build criminal cases against organizations that facilitate narcotics synthesis."

In conjunction with Mexican authorities, he adds that operations to stem the flow of illegal arms exports will also be strengthened.

Operation No Trace (WaT), currently underway, focuses on the illicit purchase, transportation and distribution of firearms, firearms components and ammunition from the U.S. to Mexico.

"WaT's three-pronged approach leverages criminal intelligence analysis, interdiction, and investigative assets to identify, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations that traffic firearms. During FY2022, WaT partners initiated 272 criminal investigations resulting in 302 arrests and seizures of 514 firearms, 1,019 magazines and more than 284,000 rounds of ammunition, all destined for TCOs in Mexico."

The strategy to combat illicit opioids is framed around four objectives: reducing the international supply of illicit opioids; reducing the domestic supply of illicit opioids; targeting the facilitators of illicit opioid trafficking: illicit finance, cybercrime and weapons smuggling; and conducting outreach with private industry.

Article published on September 24, 2023 in the 1078th edition of the weekly Ríodoce.

Source: RIODOCE 

'Mexican Crystal Meth Cooks No Longer Needed In The Netherlands'

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The presence of Mexican crystal meth cooks in the Netherlands is negligible after the method of producing the hard drug became known and they are no longer needed. This is according to a book by Flemish journalist Arthur Debruyne.

Arthur Debruyne states this, following the release of his book "The Mexican Method, The Invisible Advance of Crystal Meth in The Rural Areas" (Ambo Anthos, 2023). Debruyne wrote the book about the work of these cooks, partly in response to the arrest of several Mexican meth cooks in recent years.

Breaking bad

Debruyne became interested in the cooks through the series "Breaking Bad," he told NPO Radio 1 on the news program Nieuwsweekend. This gave him the idea that the Mexicans in the series were mainly viewed "through the lens of fiction, with all kinds of cliches. As a result, he became curious about the reality behind it.

Debruyne: 'In that reality, the cooks often work without protective masks, causing them to hallucinate, for example. They also always play second fiddle; they were brought here by the Dutch, because they understand how to produce the meth as efficiently as possible. The Dutch then provide the locations, the raw materials, the sites and the hardware.'

Lots of money

The journalist also spoke with cooks himself, at the prison for foreign inmates in Ter Apel. 'Diego and Victor were two normal men, raised in the drug-producing state of Durango in Mexico. Men with families, who saw the Netherlands as an opportunity to make a lot of money quickly, coming from a country where drug production is tolerated. And where even government figures benefit. This is in fact disguised state aid. In Mexico the penalties are harsh. Whereas in the Netherlands they were relatively low.'

But the cooks are now no longer needed. Debruyne: 'The producers in the Netherlands have figured out their trick for maximum profits by now. However, Mexican nationals did their best to keep it a secret.'

The book also includes Crimesite's revelation, about the earlier conviction of one of the cooks in the United States, as a result of which justice has now demanded a maximum prison sentence against him.

Crime Site

Mexican Mafia Fugitive "Evil," Who Controlled Ventura County Killed in Rosarito

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

Martin Madrigal Cazares, known as "Evil," was a fugitive Mexican Mafia member who controlled Sureño gangs in Ventura County, California, from a base in Mexico. He was killed in Rosarito, Baja California last month. He had been arrested with another fugitive Mexican Mafia member and 9 others in Rosarito carrying weapons and drugs back in January 2023.

However, it seems he was released from custody since that time. His release and death have gone unreported in Mexico, with only the LA Times reporting on the incident.

Borderland Beat has received exclusive information and photographs surrounding his death.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

US Agrees to Deploy Military to Ecuador Following Presidential Candidate's Assassination by Los Choneros Gang

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasson in Washington, DC.

According to the Washington Examiner and Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw, The Biden administration has quietly entered into agreements with Ecuador that will allow the United States to send in military forces, both on land and off the coast of the South American country, which has been heavily affected by drug cartels operating in the region.

Select members of Congress were informed during a private briefing on Capitol Hill with Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso on Wednesday, September 26, 2023. Lasso was in Washington to meet with State Department officials and sign two deals, according to Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who was present at the meeting and spoke with the Washington Examiner on Thursday.

"They were announcing and signing an agreement with the United States," said Crenshaw, who leads the Congressional Task Force to Combat Mexican Drug Cartels.

LIVE THREAD: Heavy Military Operation Reported In Badiraguato, Sinaloa

 “Char” and "Enojon" for Borderland Beat 

What's going on in Sinaloa? Heavy military operation reported in Badiraguato

With helicopters, drones and airplanes! During the morning of September 30, residents of the municipality of Badiraguato, Sinaloa, have reported a strong military operation.

The alleged military deployment, cataloged as the largest that has been recorded in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, since the search for 'El Chapo' in 2016, takes place in the mountainous region of the municipality: from La Tuna, to San Jose del Barranco and Santa Gertrudis.

It is worth noting that the area of 'La Tuna' is a region of Badiraguato famous for being the place where legendary former drug trafficker Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán lived as a teenager.

Patricia Herrera Valera, Owner Of Vanguardia Newspaper In Veracruz, Arrested

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The owner of the newspaper Vanguardia de Veracruz was arrested in the state of Hidalgo. This is what is known at the moment about her arrest.

Accused of kidnapping journalist, owner of Vanguardia de Veracruz newspaper is sentenced to trial.

Ivohone Patricia Herrera Valera, owner of the newspaper Vanguardia de Veracruz, was indicted for the crime of aggravated kidnapping. The businesswoman is accused as the mastermind of the kidnapping of a journalist in Poza Rica.

Herrera was arrested on Sunday, September 24 in the state of Hidalgo. On Friday, September 29, the State Attorney General's Office (FGE) of Veracruz confirmed that she had already been indicted.

"The State Attorney General's Office obtained an arrest warrant against Ivohone Patricia "N" as allegedly responsible for the crime of aggravated kidnapping, events that occurred in Poza Rica last April 3 of this year, to the detriment of a victim whose identity is protected." The official message reads.

The aggravated kidnapping for which Patricia Herrera is held responsible is that of Ricardo Villanueva Ake, a police reporter for the Presente Veracruz news portal. The 27-year-old journalist was kidnapped by armed men from a mechanic shop where he was repairing his motorcycle, in the Lázaro Cárdenas neighborhood in the municipality of Poza Rica.

A day later, on April 4, the reporter was found alive during a coordinated operation between state and federal forces on the outskirts of Poza Rica, in the northern part of Veracruz.

Minutes before the journalist was rescued, anonymous accounts spread on social networks a video in which he made a series of statements presumably under torture, where he mentioned names of people who were later killed, including Dr. Ruth Alamilla Olguín.

Ruth Alamilla Olguín, together with her daughter, Margarita Alamilla, were abducted in the municipality of Tihuatlán, on September 20, and hours later their bodies, bound and shot in the head, were found in an oil well in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, in the state of Puebla.

Patricia Herrera Valera

Ruth Alamilla Olguin and her daughter Margarita Olguin

Bodies of Ruth Alamilla Olguin and her daughter Margarita Olguin discovered. 

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Armed Group Attacks Migrants In Tecate, Two Dead And Three Wounded

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

During the early morning hours of Friday, September 29, a group of migrants who were trying to illegally enter the United States through one of the dirt roads located on the slopes of Cerro El Cuchumá in Tecate, were surprised by armed men who shot at the group, the victims fled, requesting, via telephone, the support of the authorities.

Elements of Grupo Beta Tecate and the National Migration Institute (INM) in Baja California arrived at the scene, where they located and provided assistance to 11 Mexican nationals who managed to leave the Cerro de Cuchumá. In the area, one injured person was also located, meters later two more bodies of two Mexicans who were traveling in the group, as well as two more women were taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds.

The information was corroborated by representatives of the National Migration Institute in Baja California through a statement released to the media, as well as the municipal president of Tecate, Edgar Dario Benitez Ruiz, announced the facts through a Facebook page he manages.

The struggle for control of the main migrant smuggling routes in Tecate has left during the last two months more than a dozen bodies, presumably belonging to Mexican and foreign migrants, found dead near the dividing wall between the two countries. Members of the state security roundtable point to a fierce war between the Sinaloa Cartel, the main operator of drug and human smuggling routes in Tecate, and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which has been trying to take over these routes since May.

16 Arrested In Tulsa For Involvement With Mexican Cartel

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

According to Mark Woodward, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBN) spokesperson, multiple arrests have been made connected to a drug trafficking organization, with links to a cartel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Woodward says that OBN has been working on an investigation for a couple of months. 

“These individuals are buying directly from people tied to the cartels out of Mexico that are bringing raw fentanyl powder across the border, moving it up into the Tulsa area. But also, it's impacting the distribution in places like Bartlesville, Collinsville, Chouteau,” said Woodward. “Today they're using social media to arrange for the loads being brought from Mexico to Tulsa and then they were using social media to arrange for the pickup and distribution once it got to Tulsa and moving it to places like Collinsville and Bartlesville to support somebody's opioid addiction. Just one of those dosage units, as we've seen, you know, unfortunately over the last several years, could be fatal because of just how powerful fentanyl can be.”

Those arrested in connection with the trafficking are: 

Justin Daniel Smith

Erin Joy Zaremba

Kimberly Whisenhunt

Joseph Kristopher George

Dana Ryan-Tapp

Chad Bentley Dorst

John Frederick Carter

Victoria Stephanie Hendertilo

Brandon Dale Wilson

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, (OSDH), fentanyl is one of the leading substances involved in the drug overdose crisis in the state.

There were 300 drug overdose deaths in 2022 in Oklahoma, according to OBN.

Nearly 90% of drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma were unintentional. Meaning, they did not intend to kill themselves, according to OSDH. 

Woodward says the drugs are not being sold in small quantities and not necessarily for personal use.

“In fact, people are ordering as much as one to two ounces of raw fentanyl powder. They can get about 250 doses out of it. So one ounce could supply enough 250 people to get a single use out of it,” said Woodward. “There are about three different groups of individuals that were all linked to the same distributors. And so we kind of merged these three investigations together because they were all tied to the same people bringing, the fentanyl from Mexico to Tulsa. Those shipments are broken up and taken to places like Jenks and Bixby and Bartlesville.” 

According to court documents the investigation used Facebook Messenger search warrants, GPS trackers, visual and electronic surveillance and undercover operations to take down the drug organization.

“Drug trafficking organizations operate as a dispatch system. The dispatcher will coordinate the deal by discussing money for an amount of narcotics. The dispatcher will then provide an address for the customer to go and meet the delivery driver (courier). If the customer does not have a vehicle, the courier may make home deliveries. There is not much interaction between the drivers and customers aside from the narcotics exchange,” described the undercover OBN agent in the court documents. 

Through the investigation explained in the court documents, “agents discovered that many of the Facebook messages originated from Mexico.”  

In late June of this year, OBN began monitoring data for the Facebook wire intercept, according to court documents. 

The undercover OBN agent stated in the court documents, “I have been in extensive communications with the organization understanding the verbiage they use to attempt to disguise the illegal activities. The organization referred to the fentanyl as “tacos.” This never changed throughout the investigation.” 

OBN agents began monitoring GPS trackers on the trafficking organization’s courier vehicles and capturing visual and electronic surveillance in person. 

This resulted in traffic stops where fentanyl was found and seized and the individuals were identified released or taken into custody.  

The identities of the customers arrested lined up with the evidence collected through the Facebook messages. 

“We've identified a total of 23 people at this point and have been serving arrest warrants for them this week, including yesterday and today,” said Woodward, “Right now, we've got 16 in custody. We still have about several outstanding that we believe we're going to be able to get into custody pretty soon that are looking at a variety of charges, including the trafficking of fentanyl.”

Fox 23 News