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Press Release

Dubuque Couple Plead Guilty to Federal Fentanyl and Gun Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

A man and woman who sold fentanyl in the Dubuque, Iowa area, pled guilty on November 30, 2022, and December 6, 2022, in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Fallon Christina Murphy, age 25, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and Jose Soto-Guzman, age 47, pled guilty to distribution of a controlled substance near a protected location and possession of a firearm by a felon.  In a plea agreement, Soto-Guzman admitted that between March and June 2022, he supplied heroin users in the Dubuque, Iowa area with fentanyl.  Soto-Guzman admitted that during the conspiracy, he regularly traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to purchase at least 4 grams of fentanyl from his source, which he then sold with Murphy in Dubuque.  Between March and June 2022, investigators conducted five controlled purchases from Soto‑Guzman and Murphy.  The drugs purchased contained fentanyl, but some of the fentanyl was mixed with heroin and some with methamphetamine.  During one of the controlled buys in late June 2022, Soto-Guzman indicated to the undercover officer purchasing the drugs from him that he had customers who had overdosed.

Two days after that controlled buy, officers searched the Dubuque residence where Murphy and Soto‑Guzman had been staying.  During the search, officers found a 9x19mm pistol that belonged to Soto‑Guzman.  Soto‑Guzman has multiple prior felony convictions and is prohibited from possessing a firearm.  Soto‑Guzman was taken into federal custody at the time of the search.

Evidence in a prior hearing showed that after Soto‑Guzman’s arrest, Murphy continued to obtain fentanyl from the La Crosse source for distribution in Dubuque.  In late July 2022, Murphy traveled to La Crosse to purchase drugs, and upon her return to Dubuque, officers stopped the vehicle in which she was riding.  When the police stopped her vehicle, Murphy concealed the drugs inside her body to avoid detection.  Officers later recovered the drugs, which were determined to be nearly 10 grams of fentanyl.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Both defendants will remain in the custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.  Murphy faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and a term of supervised release of at least 3 years and up to life following any imprisonment.  Soto-Guzman faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of 60 years’ imprisonment, a $4,000,000 fine, and a term of supervised release of at least 6 years and up to life following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Nicole L. Nagin and Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham and was investigated by the Dubuque Drug Task Force as part of the Northern Iowa Heroin Initiative. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 22-CR-1022.

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Updated December 12, 2022

Drug Trafficking