Final Defendant Sentenced in Nayarit, Mexico-Based Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy
PORTLAND, Ore. – Misraim Israel Briones Pasos aka Mario Ozuna, 36, of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, was sentenced today to 151 months in prison for his role in a vast conspiracy responsible for trafficking hundreds of pounds of black tar heroin from Nayarit, Mexico to the Portland metropolitan area.
“Most of the heroin in this country came here across our porous Southern Border," Attorney General Sessions said. "Traffickers from Nayarit, like these defendants, have become notorious across the United States for their effectiveness in dispensing cheap and powerful heroin. We will never know the full extent of the consequences of their actions. The sentences handed down in this case, though they cannot compare with the damage done to our nation by the defendants, will help keep the people of this country safe. I want to thank our fabulous OCDETF members with the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the IRS, the Marshals Service, and local police for their hard work, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Edmonds and Steven Mygrant. They have done us all a service by taking heroin traffickers off of our streets.”
“At a time when communities are reeling from the effects of the opioid crisis, there are criminal organizations whose sole purpose is to profit off addiction. At its peak, this network was bringing up to 10 pounds of heroin into the Portland area every week – nearly 45,000 single doses,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “Much of what law enforcement does to disrupt and dismantle these organizations is unknown to the public. The resolution of this case gives us a rare glimpse into the extraordinary work of law enforcement to bring every last person involved in a network’s operations to justice.”
“Lives are being lost at an alarming rate everyday due to opioid affliction,” said Keith Weis, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Seattle. “We must be steadfast in stopping those most responsible for this shameful profiteering.”
According to court documents, investigators first learned of the conspiracy when a confidential informant provided a tip that co-defendant Cory Jaques was selling heroin and oxycodone from his residence in southwest Portland. Using controlled buys, surveillance and phone toll analysis, investigators determined that Jaques was receiving heroin from Briones Pasos and another co-defendant Melchor Luna Rodriguez. A federal wiretap investigation was opened in the fall of 2014.
Investigators later learned that Briones Pasos’ managed one of several heroin cells in the Portland area sourced by a single Nayarit-based supplier. The supply cell, managed by codefendants Christopher Guillen Robles and Paul Guillen, was responsible for bringing as much as 10 pounds of heroin into the metropolitan area every week. By early 2015, investigators had revealed the cells’ transportation methods and the movement of money via banks, bulk cash smuggling and wire transfers.
In February 2015, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a multi-count indictment implicating 22 defendants. Soon thereafter, investigators executed search and arrest warrants at 24 locations across four states. By February 2018, all principal targets had been convicted and the court had ordered more than $1.4 million in forfeiture money judgments.
Sentenced defendants include:
Christopher Guillen-Robles, 23, of Pomona, California – 151 months in prison and five years’ supervised release
Misraim Israel Briones Pasos, aka Mario Ozuna, 36, of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico – 151 months in prison and five years’ supervised release
Jose Luis Mamani-Vidal, 51, of Salt Lake City, Utah – 128 months in prison and five years’ supervised release
Alexis Guillen-Robles, 22, of Perris, California – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release
Melchor Luna Rodriguez, aka Jose Luis Mendez Chavez, 35, of Apatzingán, Michoacán, Mexico – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release
Jose Mata, 30, of Hillsboro, Oregon – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release
Cipriano Andrade-Lopez, aka Burras and Burra, 40, of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release
Juan Carlos Vega Rivera, aka Fidel Lnu and Laylo, 34, of Mexico City, Mexico – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release
Geovany Munoz, 22, of Long Beach, California – 97 months in prison and four years’ supervised release
Cory Allyn Jaques, 40, of Tigard, Oregon – 78 months in prison and four years’ supervised release
Irvin David Jaimes Perez, aka Leonardo Lnu and Miguel Garsia-Frores, 32, of Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico – 63 months in prison and four years’ supervised release
Francisco Rodriguez-Esqueda, aka Borrego, 32, of Xalisco, Nayarit, Mexico – 62 months in prison and five years’ supervised release
Joel Orozco-Estrada, 23, of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico – 60 months in prison and three years’ supervised release
Franz Ulises Mendoza-Pasos, aka Chulo, Oscar Lnu, and Jael Mejia-Romo, 32, of El Refugio Testarazo, Nayarit, Mexico – 57 months in prison and three years’ supervised release
Fabian Gonzalez-Avila, aka Francisco, Hammer, and Tamburete, 24, of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico – 57 months in prison and three years’ supervised release
Jose Huanaco-Casildo, 33, of Forest Grove, Oregon – 57 months in prison and four years’ supervised release
Jose Najar-Celis, 34, of Venustiano Carranza, Nayarit, Mexico – 50 months in prison and three years’ supervised release
Christian Enrique Chavez-Esqueda, aka Sapo, 30, of Xalisco, Nayarit, Mexico – 42 months in prison and three years’ supervised release
Lisa Miriam Wendell, 38, of Billings, Montana – 41 months in prison and four years’ supervised release
Jose Jorge Tobon-Ortega, aka Puebla and Fnu Lnu, 39, of Molcaxac, Puebla, Mexico – 36 months in prison and three years’ supervised release
Christian Llanos-Javier, aka Chacal, 29, of Portland, Oregon – 28 months in prison and three years’ supervised release
Mary Elizabeth Henlin, 37, of Portland, Oregon – time served in prison and five years’ supervised release
This case was the result of a joint investigation by the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), FBI, IRS, U.S. Marshals Service, the Portland Police Bureau Drugs and Vice Division, the Clackamas County Interagency Taskforce, and the Westside Interagency Narcotics Team (WIN). It was prosecuted by Thomas H. Edmonds and Steven T. Mygrant, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.
This case was brought as part of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the department’s strategy for reducing the availability of drugs in the U.S. OCDETF was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack on drug trafficking by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in coordination with state and local law enforcement.