Four individuals suspected of being part of a drug trafficking group were indicted by a federal grand jury in El Paso on Wednesday. The indictment includes eight charges, which are connected to the transportation of fentanyl and methamphetamine, as well as activities related to straw purchasing and firearms trafficking.
As per legal documents, Maria del Rosario Navarro-Sanchez, a 37-year-old Mexican citizen, orchestrated the transportation of methamphetamine and fentanyl pills from Mexico to the United States via the El Paso ports of entry. She enlisted the help of Bryan Alexis Munoz-Castro, a 20-year-old resident of El Paso, as her courier. The indictment provides specific details about the search conducted at Munoz-Castro's place by FBI agents. During this operation, they found around 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine and approximately 300 grams of fentanyl along with $6,480 in proceeds from drug sales. Additionally, two cell phones were seized as well.
According to the indictment, Navarro-Sanchez and Munoz-Castro allegedly collaborated in smuggling weapons from the United States to Mexico. In the summer months of 2023, operatives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) intercepted communications involving Navarro-Sanchez. These communications revealed a planned acquisition of twenty rifles resembling AK-47s along with two Barrett .50 BMG caliber rifles for a total cost of $66,000.
Codefendant Rene Hernandez-Cordero, a 51-year-old Mexican citizen, is accused of entering the United States from Mexico on August 21st with around $63,000 in his possession. His purpose was to meet his codefendant Jesus Gerado Ramos, a 52-year-old resident of El Paso, and buy firearms. Ramos had plans to transport these weapons into Mexico. However, both individuals were apprehended by authorities at the location of the intended purchase.
Navarro-Sanchez has been accused of engaging in two instances of collaborating to obtain a controlled substance with the intention of distributing it, one instance of illegally purchasing firearms on behalf of others, and one instance of trafficking firearms. If found guilty, she could be sentenced to imprisonment for a period ranging from 10 years to life for each count pertaining to the controlled substance charges, as well as a maximum penalty of 15 years for each charge related to firearms.
Munoz-Castro is facing charges that include three counts involving possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, two counts relating to conspiring with others in order to possess and distribute such substances, one count involving buying firearms on behalf of someone else (straw purchasing), and another count pertaining specifically to trafficking firearms. In the event that he is convicted, Munoz-Castro may face imprisonment ranging from 10 years up until life for four out the five controlled substance charges. Additionally, he could receive a maximum penalty totaling 15 years per firearm-related charge along with an additional sentence ranging from five up until 40 years for his fifth offense regarding possession with intent distributed substances.
Hernandez-Cordero has been accused of engaging in two instances of collaborating to possess a controlled substance with the intention to distribute, one instance of purchasing firearms on behalf of others, one instance of engaging in the trade of firearms, and one instance of smuggling large amounts of cash. If found guilty, he could potentially receive a sentence ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment for four charges related to the possession and distribution of controlled substances. Additionally, he may face a maximum penalty of 15 years for each charge related to firearms and up to 10 years for the charge involving bulk cash smuggling.
Ramos is facing charges for straw purchasing firearms on behalf others and trafficking in firearms. If convicted, he could potentially be sentenced up to a maximum penalty period lasting 15 years per charge.