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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

California Man Charged With Transporting Large Quantity Of Fentanyl

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Raymond P. Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced that RICHARD MENDOZA was charged in an indictment with conspiring to distribute fentanyl on behalf of a drug trafficking organization.  MENDOZA was charged by complaint and arrested in Arizona on September 23, 2020, after law enforcement found approximately nine kilograms of fentanyl packaged and hidden inside of the exhaust system of the vehicle that MENDOZA was driving.  MENDOZA will be presented and arraigned at a later date upon his arrival in this district. 

According to the allegations in the Complaint and Indictment[1]:

Beginning in or about June, law enforcement identified RICHARD MENDOZA as an individual who was working to coordinate shipments of fentanyl to New York on behalf of a drug trafficking organization.  On or about September 16, 2020, law enforcement intercepted phone calls on which MENDOZA was preparing to receive a truck that had been pre-loaded with narcotics by other members of the drug trafficking organization.  On or about September 17, 2020, MENDOZA was the driver and sole occupant of a truck that was ultimately stopped and searched by law enforcement.  During the search, law enforcement found approximately nine kilograms of fentanyl that were packaged and hidden inside the vehicle’s exhaust system. 

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MENDOZA, 50, of Desert Hot Springs, California, is charged with one count of conspiring to distribute fentanyl, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) New York Strike Force.  The OCDETF New York Strike Force is a crime-fighting unit comprising federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.  The Strike Force is affiliated with the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA, New York City Police Department, New York State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Peter J. Davis and Andrew A. Rohrbach are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint and Indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Complaint and Indictment, and the description of the Complaint and Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

 

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Contact: 
James Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
20-215
Updated September 29, 2020