PHOENIX – Three men were charged on Oct. 4 with conspiring to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine and using or carrying a firearm in a drug trafficking offense, following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Kevin Crosswell-Cervantes, 28, from Mexico; Carlos Alberto Castro-Ruiz, 27, of Avondale; and Alexander Ortega-Islas, 22, of Phoenix, had their first court appearance on September 23, before United States Magistrate Judge Eileen S. Willett.
On September 21, HSI special agents arrested Crosswell-Cervantes, Castro-Ruiz, and Ortega-Islas and seized approximately 410,000 blue fentanyl pills, approximately 20,000 multi-colored fentanyl pills, also known as “skittles”, and approximately 25 pounds of methamphetamine. at Avondale. During the crackdown, HSI special agents also seized an AK-47 type pistol, a Kimber 1911 45 caliber pistol with two magazines and an FN 45 caliber pistol.
A conviction for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000,000, or both.
A conviction for using or carrying a firearm in a drug trafficking offense carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence, with a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both.
An indictment is only an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. An individual is presumed innocent until evidence is presented to a jury establishing their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew G. Eltringham, District of Arizona, Tucson, OECDTF Section, is handling the charge.
HSI is a branch of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, particularly criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and financial move. HSI’s workforce of more than 10,400 employees includes more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities across the United States and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative police presence overseas and one of the largest international law enforcement footprints in the United States.