Nine People Indicted for Trafficking Heroin, Fentanyl and Cocaine
BIRMINGHAM – A federal grand jury last month indicted nine people as part of an illegal drug ring trafficking heroin, fentanyl and cocaine in Jefferson County, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam.
A 57-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges ANTHONY LEVY WARD, 35, of Chelsea, FERLANDO CARMISE MIMS, 19, ONANDAS CARMECE BEARD, 19, ANTHONY LEVY ALEXANDER, 56, BETTY LEVY ALEXANDER, 50, and COREY DARNELLE HAYNES, 36, all of Birmingham, and JOSE AGUSTIN GUTIERREZ, 31, JESUS UBALDO MONTOYA, 22, and MARAHAI ARDIZO ENRIQUEZ, 24, all of Phoenix, Ariz., with conspiracy to distribute the drugs between September 2015 and October 2016.
The indictment seeks a $1.7 million monetary judgment against the defendants as proceeds of illegal activity. A federal judge unsealed the indictment today after Betty Alexander was taken into federal custody.
“These defendants are charged as part of a drug-trafficking ring that brought large quantities of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine, into the Birmingham area,” Vance said. “All of those drugs are dangerous and highly addictive, but heroin and fentanyl are also deadly, and fentanyl profoundly so. A few salt-sized grains of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid about 50 times more potent than heroin, can kill, and most heroin users have no idea whether the drug they are using has been cut with fentanyl or whether the heroin they purchased is actually diluted fentanyl. DEA and its law enforcement partners have saved lives by taking these people off the streets and bringing them forward for prosecution.”
“Even a small amount of fentanyl can be lethal,” Azzam said. “There is a disturbing trend across the nation, including here in the Birmingham area, of heroin dealers adding fentanyl to their heroin to increase the potency. As a result, we have seen an alarming increase in overdoses, many of which have resulted in death. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, as shown in this investigation, to aggressively pursue those who ruthlessly traffic these and other dangerous drugs.”
The indictment includes special findings of the grand jury regarding the amount of cocaine or heroin attributable to various defendants as part of the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
Ward, his father Anthony Alexander and his aunt Betty Alexander, along with Mims and Gutierrez, are charged with conspiring to traffic 1,000 grams or more of heroin. That charge carries a minimum 10-year prison sentence and a maximum prison penalty of life. Ward, having previously been convicted in state and federal court for drug trafficking, could face a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison if convicted on the current charges.
Ward, Gutierrez, Montoya and Enriquez are charged with conspiring to traffic five kilograms or more of cocaine, which also carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
Haynes and Beard are charged with conspiring to traffic 100 grams or more of heroin, which carries a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of 40, plus a $5 million fine.
In underlying distribution charges in the indictment, Mims faces two counts of distributing fentanyl in September 2015, and a third count of possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute it, along with Beard, in April 2016. Mims also faces five counts of possessing with the intent to distribute or distributing heroin between December 2015 and August 2016.
Beard also faces a separate count of distributing heroin in October 2015.
Haynes faces two counts of possessing with the intent to distribute or distributing heroin, one in November 2015 and one in June 2016.
The indictment charges Gutierrez, Montoya, and Enriquez with possessing with the intent to distribute at least five kilograms, or more than 11 pounds, of cocaine between Aug. 9, 2016, and Aug. 11, 2016.
Betty Alexander faces one count of possessing with the intent to distribute at least one kilogram of heroin on Sept. 28, 2016.
Ward and Anthony Alexander are charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute fentanyl on Sept. 30, 2016.
Ward also faces two counts of illegal gun possession, one for using an FN 5.7x28mm pistol in relation to a drug-trafficking crime, and one for being a convicted felon in possession of the pistol on Oct. 13, 2016. Ward was convicted in Jefferson County Circuit Court in August 2011 for trafficking illegal drugs and was convicted in federal court in the Northern District of Alabama in February of 2011 for distributing cocaine.
Mims faces one illegal gun count for using a Ruger pistol during a drug-trafficking crime on April 26, 2016.
Thirty-eight counts of the indictment charge various defendants with using telephones to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.
The charges of distributing five kilograms or more of cocaine and distributing a kilogram or more of heroin both carry a minimum 10-year prison sentence and a maximum of life, plus a maximum $10 million fine. The minimum prison term is 20 years if previously convicted of a drug-trafficking crime.
The remaining distribution charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
The maximum penalty for using a gun during a drug-trafficking crime is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the maximum penalty for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Each count of using a telephone in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Today’s indictment supersedes a September indictment that charged Ward, Mims, Beard, Gutierrez, Montoya and Enriquez with one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine and fentanyl between April 2016 and August 2016.
The DEA investigated the case in conjunction with the Birmingham and Hoover police departments and the U.S. Marshals Service. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama is prosecuting the case.