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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Pontiac Man Arrested in ICE Enforcement Action Convicted of Armed Cocaine Trafficking

DETROIT – A Pontiac man was convicted yesterday by a federal jury in Detroit on charges of possessing cocaine and marijuana with the intent to distribute those drugs, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possession of a firearm by a person who is unlawfully in the United States, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison.

Joining Ison in the announcement was James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Robert Lynch, Field Office Director ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Detroit.

A four-day trial, conducted before United States District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds, resulted in the conviction of Edgar Rangel-Tapia, 27. Tapia faces a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of life when he is sentenced, likely early next year. 

According to the evidence presented at trial, ICE ERO deportation officers were executing a search warrant for documents in April 2021. Tapia was the only person home at the time. During a protective sweep, agents saw a safe full of drugs and cash, and a shotgun behind a dresser. They then contacted the FBI, who secured a second search warrant for drugs, firearms, and related materials. The FBI recovered additional ammunition and a firearm, as well as over $9,000 cash in and around the safe in defendant’s bedroom. Investigators also found two hand-held scales (commonly used to weigh drugs for street sale), materials for packaging drugs for sale, and Tapia’s cellphone, which contained text messages relating to drug transactions.

Tapia entered the United States unlawfully and therefore cannot legally possess firearms.

“Our office will vigorously pursue armed drug dealers who traffic cocaine and other drugs into our community,” said Ison. “We will do all we can to stop them from continuing to destroy the lives of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones who suffer from their illegal conduct.” 

“This case is an excellent example of how federal law enforcement agencies work together to fulfill our joint mission to free our communities from criminals who use firearms and trafficking illegal drugs,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “We remain committed to working with law enforcement agencies at all levels to disrupt drug trafficking and to remove illegal guns from the streets of Southeast Michigan."

“I’m incredibly proud of these officers and their commitment to public safety,” said ICE ERO Detroit Field Office Director Robert Lynch. “They, along with the other members of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement Detroit Field Office, work tirelessly to identify and remove individuals, like Rangel-Tapia, from the community who disregard our laws and endanger the public.” 

This investigation was led by agents of the FBI Oakland County Gang and Violent Crimes Task Force which includes Oakland County Sheriff's Office, Troy Police Department, Southfield Police Department, Bloomfield Township Police Department, Michigan State Police, Franklin-Bingham Farms Police Department, with the assistance of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Trevor Broad and David Portelli.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated November 8, 2022