Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mexican Cartel Connected to Heroin Trafficking Bust in Oklahoma, Say Feds

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma announced the indictment of 29 alleged members and co-conspirators of a drug trafficking organization with ties to the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG). The 29 are accused of participating in a criminal enterprise to possess and distribute heroin and perform money laundering.

The indictment alleges that the Giovanni Drug Trafficking Organization established a heroin distribution network based in Mexico with operations in Tulsa, dating back to November 2017. The organization allegedly imported, processed, and distributed approximately two kilograms of heroin per week while utilizing multiple levels of distribution to supply street-level dealers and users, according to the federal grand jury indictment issued on May 9, and unsealed Tuesday.

“Operation Smack Drago” was a long-term multi-agency investigation. According to the indictment, the organization’s leaders in Mexico supplied heroin to the Tulsa “cell heads.” These cell heads were also originally from Mexico but took up residence in Oklahoma. Stille Giovanni Gutierrez Vivanco was identified in the court filing as the leader of the Mexico group. According to the indictment, “the criminal organization smuggled heroin into the United States and transported the drug to storage locations in Tulsa where they prepared it for distribution throughout the United States.”

A select group of cell heads were responsible for managing the transportation of drugs from the Mexican border to Tulsa, the filing notes. Laundering techniques were then used to send proceeds out of the U.S. Cell heads were identified as Jose Garcia, 36, Edson Garcia-Velasquez, 25, and Norman Fabian Huerta Avalos, 36, according to a release.

The CJNG is blamed for much of the record-breaking violence in Mexico as they quickly move to take new operational territories.

Criminal charges handed down by a federal grand jury were announced Tuesday at a press conference hosted by U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)

Robert Arce

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