Two Men Plead Guilty for Roles in Transnational Heroin Trafficking Operation
TULSA, Okla. – Two men have pleaded guilty in January for their roles in a heroin trafficking operation with ties to Mexico’s New Generation Cartel, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
The two were among 29 individuals indicted for drug conspiracy and other crimes. U.S. Attorney Trent Shores announced the indictment at a press conference held in May 2019. The investigation was given the name Operation Smack Dragon.
“The heroin in this case was trafficked from Mexico to Oklahoma by a criminal organization with no respect for our laws or borders. They profit from American addiction. Hartzell and Adams willingly took part in the conspiracy with little regard for the communities they harmed,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “I am thankful for the collective efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn McCormick.”
Devin Hartzell, 25, of Catoosa, pleaded guilty Jan. 15 to drug conspiracy. In his written plea, Hartzell stated that he conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin beginning in January 2018 and continuing until June 2019. During that time, he admitted to purchasing up to one kilogram of heroin multiple times a week from Jose Garcia and Edson Garcia-Velasquez. He would then redistribute the heroin to third parties who redistributed the drug to others.
Marquis Adams, 30, pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy on Jan. 29. In his written plea agreement, Adams, admitted that he conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin from January 2018 to June 2019. Adams stated that he purchased 3.5 grams of heroin roughly every day from Devin Hartzell. He then redistributed the heroin to third parties.
According to the May 2019 Indictment, the alleged transnational criminal organization’s hierarchy had clearly defined roles, as leaders from Mexico supplied heroin to the Tulsa “cell heads.” These “cell heads” were originally from Mexico but lived in Tulsa. Stille Giovanni Gutierrez Vivanco, allegedly directed, from Mexico, the overall drug trafficking operations in Tulsa by delegating responsibilities for the import and distribution of the heroin and for the movement of the proceeds from heroin sales. According to the Indictment, the criminal organization smuggled heroin into the United States and transported the drug to storage locations in Tulsa where they prepared it for distribution throughout the United States. After preparing the heroin, the coconspirators would repackage it for distribution to mid-level distributers, who would then redistribute it to street-level dealers until it eventually found its way into the hands of customers.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations led the investigation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service- Criminal Investigation; the Oklahoma State Attorney General’s Office; and Tulsa Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn McCormick is prosecuting this case. AUSA McCormick is the Lead Attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
You can find the May 2019 Indictment announcement here