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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 8, 2019

Fayetteville Man Sentenced to Seven Years for Drug Distribution

RALEIGH – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today in federal court, United States District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced MIGUEL ANGEL GIERBOLINI, 27, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, to 84 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release.

GIERBOLINI was named in an Indictment filed on May 8, 2018, and on August 7, 2018, he pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine and a quantity of Heroin.

Investigators with the Fayetteville Police Department, the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified members of a Puerto Rican drug trafficking organization (DTO) that were shipping kilograms of cocaine locations in Cumberland and Sampson counties, North Carolina via the United States Postal Service. Surveillance, wiretap interceptions, and confidential sources of information (CSIs) were used to identify multiple drug traffickers working in connection with the DTO. Indicted members of the DTO include Luis Joel Robles Latorres; Wilmer Luis Mejias; Luis Morales; Wayne Williams; Carlton Roy Hughes; and Miguel GIERBOLINI.

The investigation showed that the DTO shipped more than 100 kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico to North Carolina, with a total street value of approximately $3.5 million. Agents also seized multiple firearms from DTO members pursuant to search warrants. Luis Joel Robles Latorres was identified as the head of the DTO. Wilmer Mejias assisted in the distribution of cocaine and the collection of drug proceeds. Wayne Williams, Carlton Hughes, and Luis Morales were also large-scale drug distributors in North Carolina.

The investigation also identified GIERBOLINI as one of the suppliers within the DTO.  He worked with DTO leader Luis Joel Robles Latorres, who was sentenced to 162 months imprisonment on June 18, 2019.

Agents began receiving information about the DTO from CSI #1.  Specifically CSI #1 identified Latorres as the individual responsible for arranging cocaine shipments from Puerto Rico. Latorres was also responsible for collecting drug proceeds and sending them back to the DTO in Puerto Rico.  

GIERBOLINI was identified as Latorres’ drug business partner by a cooperating defendant (CD#1). CD#1 stated that between the fall of 2015 through January 2016, CD#1 received between 4 and 9 ounces of cocaine per week from Latorres.  CD#1 also noted that GIERBOLINI was his heroin source of supply, and he purchased 3 ounces of heroin from GIERBOLINI in the summer of 2017.  Furthermore, CD#1 noted that Latorres and GIERBOLINI possessed firearms. Specifically, Latorres possessed a handgun during several of the drug transactions, and GIERBOLINI wore a gun in a holster during drug transactions.  CD#1 advised he purchased cocaine directly from GIERBOLINI on four occasions. The total amount of cocaine purchased directly from GIERBOLINI during the drug transactions was 18 ounces (510.3 grams).

A second cooperating defendant (CD#2) identified GIERBOLINI as Latorres’ “right hand man,” and the witness noted that all of the cocaine received from Puerto Rico went to GIERBOLINI for “safekeeping” after it was inspected by Latorres.  Specifically, CD#2 noted that at any given time, GIERBOLINI stored between 1 and 4 kilograms of cocaine at his residence in Fayetteville for Latorres.  GIERBOLINI also kept firearms and large amounts of U.S. Currency at his home.

This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) named Operation La Vida Loca. OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

That effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.  For more information about this initiative click here:  https://www.justice.gov/usao-ednc/tbnc.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Fayetteville Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wilmington Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Lemmon represented the government.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated August 8, 2019