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Press Release

Two Men Sentenced to 10 Years for Trafficking Mass Quantities of Fentanyl from Southern California to the District

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON – Mario Ernesto Benitez, 29, and Diamante Markell Hall, 29, both of Washington D.C., were sentenced today to 120 months in prison for their roles in a large-scale narcotics conspiracy that trafficked kilogram quantities of fentanyl and additional amounts of cocaine from Southern California to the metropolitan region.

            The sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Scott of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division, DEA Special Agent in Charge Jarod A. Forget of the Washington Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Inspector in Charge Damon Wood, of the United States Postal Inspection Service Washington Division, and Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police.

            Benitez, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and cocaine on January 11, 2024, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich, who also ordered Benitez to serve five of supervised release on completion of the prison term.

            Hall, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and cocaine, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Friedrich, who also ordered Hall to serve five years of supervised release.

            According to court documents, Benitez admitted to trafficking more than three kilograms of a mixture of substance containing fentanyl and 217 grams of cocaine from December 2022 until his arrest in May 2023. Hall admitted to trafficking nearly six kilograms of fentanyl to the metro area in the span of a few months.

            Authorities learned that on December 13, 2022, two packages were shipped at the same time from a facility in Monterrey Park, California, to the Washington, D.C. area. Both packages were addressed to “Martes Benito,” on the 700 block of Congress Street, S.E. The shipper opened the first package pursuant to their own policies as the package was deemed suspicious by its employees. Virginia State Police and the DEA recovered approximately 700 grams of fentanyl pills and 200 grams of cocaine from the first package.

            On December 17, 2022, the shipper informed law enforcement that a second package addressed to “Martes Benito” at the Congress Street address had been intercepted. Law enforcement obtained a state court warrant for the package. It was found to contain approximately one kilogram of fentanyl pills. Video from the shipping facility in Monterrey Park confirmed that Benitez mailed both packages at the same time on December 13, 2023, and the video footage shows the distinctive tattoos on Benitez’s left hand and left wrist.

            Agents also learned that beginning in June 2022, approximately twice a month, Benitez made short trips, flying to Los Angeles, California and then returning to the Washington D.C. area. One of those trips took place from December 12 to December 13, 2023, which coincided with the date that both packages were shipped from the facility near Los Angeles in Monterrey Park. Hall often accompanied him on those trips and helped to ship packages of fentanyl to the Washington metro area.

            On May 3, 2023, agents arrested Benitez in the District. Upon his arrest, agents executed a search warrant at his residence where they seized six grams of cocaine and 150 grams of fentanyl pills, a DPMS AR-style rifle and a Glock Model 19 handgun, $57,226 in cash, and implements used to ship the narcotics. The magazine in the AR-style rifle was loaded.

            Hall addressed his packages to the 500 block of Rittenhouse Street, NW. On September 18, 2023, law enforcement arrested Hall in Maryland. In searching Hall’s residence, agents found 28 grams of suspected cocaine, a loaded Glock Model 30 handgun with an obliterated serial number, additional ammunition of different calibers, a money counter, a digital scale, and $1,500 in cash which Hall admitted was proceeds from his drug sales.

            This investigation was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

            This case was investigated by the FBI, the DEA, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Washington Division, and Virginia State Police. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nihar Mohanty of the Violent Crime and Narcotics Trafficking Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Long.

Updated April 29, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs
Press Release Number: 24-369