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Press Release

Two Indicted After Drug Shipment Intercepted on Interstate 44 in St. Louis County

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

ST. LOUIS – A man from Texas and a woman from St. Louis, Missouri were indicted Wednesday on drug conspiracy charges after multiple kilograms of suspected fentanyl and methamphetamine were found during a traffic stop on Interstate 44 in St. Louis County.

Francisco Manuel Mata-Martinez, 41, of El Paso, was indicted in U.S. District Court in St. Louis on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl, one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The grand jury indicted Maricela Vazquez-Vargas, 38, on the conspiracy charge and a charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

On February 6, Mata-Martinez was identified as a possible courier of narcotics and stopped on Interstate 44 in St. Louis County, according to a criminal complaint filed prior to the indictment. After a narcotics detection dog alerted to the vehicle, officers found a duffel bag with seven packages containing a total of 8.5 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, 40 packages containing 25.7 kilograms of suspected methamphetamine and 1.2 kilos of suspected ketamine, the affidavit says.

DEA agents and police watched as a St. Louis woman, Vazquez-Vargas, then arrived in the 4200 block of Delor Street in St. Louis to meet the drug delivery, the affidavit says.

A kilogram of suspected cocaine was later found in her home, the affidavit says.

Both are scheduled to be in court on February 23.

The conspiracy charge and the charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl carry a penalty of 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine, or both. The other charges are punishable by five to 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine, or both.

Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the St. Louis County Police Department and the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Dane Rennier is prosecuting the case.   

Updated February 17, 2023

Topic
Drug Trafficking