News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2008
Contact: Joanna Zoltay
Number: 312-886-2597

Five Alleged Members of Minneapolis Area
Drug Trafficking Operation Indicted
Defendants charged in cocaine and heroin conspiracy

JAN 24 -- (Minneapolis, MN) - Federal and local law enforcement officials believe they placed a significant dent in a Minneapolis drug trafficking organization following the January 23, 2007 arrest of a fifth individual involved in the operation. The five defendants were indicted Jan. 8 in federal court with one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine.

The defendants indicted are: Christian Hernandez-Seldana, 32, Fridley; Ramiro Cuevas-Martinez, 35, Brooklyn Park; Eddy Medina-Garza, 22, Brooklyn Park; Feliz Murguia-Garcia, 35, Brooklyn Park; and Phat Minh Nguyen, 34, St. Paul. The indictment alleges that between May 1, 2007 and December 20, 2007, the defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other and others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1 kilogram or more of a substance containing a detectable amount of heroin and a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine.

The affidavit, filed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), alleges that the defendants were part of an operation responsible for distributing heroin and cocaine throughout the greater Minneapolis area. Heroin is a highly addictive and dangerous opiate manufactured from morphine, which is extracted from poppy plants. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain.

The joint investigation conducted by the DEA Minneapolis District Office and Minneapolis Police Department Narcotics Unit revealed that customers would telephone in orders to Hernandez-Seldana and arrange to meet to purchase the drugs. Hernandez-Seldana would generally direct the customer to a set of cross streets in south Minneapolis and give a time frame to meet.

“Any time drug law enforcement agencies come together to work a case and put bad guys in jail is a good day,” stated Gary G. Olenkiewicz, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Chicago Field Division, which encompasses the state of Minnesota. “Long investigative hours and our partnership with the Minneapolis Police Department and the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Minnesota led to the indictments in this investigation. We will continue working with state and local agencies and prosecutors to bring illegal drug organizations to justice.”

On July 16, 2007, a search warrant executed by the Minneapolis Police Department’s Narcotics Unit at a Richfield residence resulted in the seizure of several ounces of heroin, $40,000 and more than one ounce of cocaine. During the search, officers observed Hernandez-Seldana and another man driving by watching the residence.

Between October 26, 2007 and December 17, 2007, law enforcement arranged several controlled buys of heroin and cocaine from the organization. The heroin buys ranged from 1.2 grams to 6.5 grams, and the cocaine amounts ranged from 1 gram to 1.6 grams. According to the affidavit, the drugs were sold at various times from Hernandez-Seldana, Cuevas-Martinez, Medina-Garza and Murguia-Garcia. The investigation culminated with nine federal search warrants being served at various residences in the Minneapolis area. A search warrant executed at Hernandez-Seldana’s Fridley residence, recovered approximately 400 grams of heroin, 81 grams of cocaine, and U.S. Currency.

If convicted, each of the five defendants face a potential maximum penalty of life in prison and a $4 million fine. All sentences are determined by a federal district court judge. This case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s office in the District of Minnesota by Assistant United States Attorney Steven L. Schleicher.

The public is reminded that an indictment is an allegation only, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial or by guilty plea.

###