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Press Release

Man Sentenced to More Than 16 Years for Drug Distribution Charge

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

RALEIGH – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today in federal court, Senior United States District Judge W. Earl Britt sentenced FRANZ DIDYER RAMOS-FERNANDEZ, 29, of Pasadena, Texas, to 195 months of imprisonment followed by 6 years of supervised release. 

RAMOS-FERNANDEZ and co-defendant Fernando Enrique Cardona-Zavala were named in a five-count Indictment filed on June 27, 2017.  On September 14, 2017 RAMOS-FERNANDEZ pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine, a Quantity of Cocaine, and a Quantity of Marijuana.

The investigation revealed that RAMOS-FERNANDEZ was the head of a drug trafficking organization (DTO) selling crystal methamphetamine (hereinafter referred to as Ice), cocaine, and other drugs in the Wilmington, North Carolina, area.  Cardona-Zavala was identified as one of RAMOS-FERNANDEZ’ primary dealers and he was sentenced on November 30, 2017.

According to a confidential source (CS), RAMOS-FERNANDEZ was importing and distributing significant quantities of multiple drugs throughout the Wilmington, North Carolina region. RAMOS-FERNANDEZ utilized a sophisticated network of local bars, nightclubs and apartments to store and sell his organization’s drugs.  With the assistance of the CS, undercover agents (UC and UC2), and a confidential source of information (SOI), several controlled purchases and seizures of narcotics from RAMOS-FERNANDEZ and Cardona-Zavala took place involving crystal methamphetamine and cocaine.

According to the SOI, on March 17, 2017, RAMOS-FERNANDEZ hinted at the possibility of the SOI driving to Miami, Florida, and to Texas for RAMOS-FERNANDEZ, which could earn the SOI $5,000 to $10,000 per trip.  The SOI further advised law enforcement of pictures RAMOS-FERNANDEZ recently posted on “Snap Chat” indicating that individuals at a local restaurant in Wilmington owed RAMOS-FERNANDEZ significant sums of money, noting that “they” sold drugs out of that location.   

Between May and June 2017, RAMOS-FERNANDEZ relocated to the Houston area and made contact with the DEA in Houston.  After a federal warrant was issued in North Carolina for RAMOS-FERNANDEZ’ arrest in late June 2017, DEA agents in Wilmington requested that DEA agents in Houston arrange for a meeting with RAMOS-FERNANDEZ.  Following RAMOS-FERNANDEZ’ arrival at the DEA office in Houston on July 6, 2017, he was placed under arrest.  On the same date, DEA agents conducted an unprotected interview of RAMOS-FERNANDEZ, during which he admitted to selling Ice to an undercover DEA agent in Wilmington.  Additionally, RAMOS-FERNANDEZ provided details about an international Mexican DTO that had cells in Texas, North Carolina, and Philadelphia.

Based on the investigation, RAMOS-FERNANDEZ is accountable for the possession and distribution of multiple kilogram quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana. RAMOS-FERNANDEZ possessed a firearm in connection with the offense.  He is also deserving of a role enhancement for his position as a manager or supervisor of the criminal activity which involved five or more participants.  

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) along with local, Wilmington based law enforcement agencies conducted the criminal investigation of this case.  Assistant United States Attorney Bradford Knott handled the prosecution of this case for the government.  

Updated May 1, 2018

Drug Trafficking