Columbus man sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison for role in drug ring involving 75 pounds of fentanyl
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Lucio Manuel Munoz, 29, of Columbus, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 188 months in prison for his role in a drug conspiracy involving more than 75 pounds of fentanyl.
According to court documents, in February 2021, law enforcement officials seized approximately 30 kilograms of fentanyl from Munoz’s vehicle. Munoz and two other men, Maximus Alberto Dominguez, 20, and Rene Bernal Gaytan, 23, were charged by federal criminal complaint and arrested on Feb. 3, 2021.
The defendants were conducting illicit narcotics operations from the Red Roof Inn on South State Street in Westerville and from a residence on Chesford Road in Columbus.
Law enforcement officials were conducting surveillance on both locations on Feb. 2, 2021, and subsequently stopped Dominguez for a traffic stop on Interstate 270 South. A narcotics K9 alerted to the presence of drugs and officers discovered approximately 978 grams of fentanyl in the BMW Dominguez was driving.
Munoz attempted to flee the residence on Chesford Road later that evening with bulk amounts of narcotics in his vehicle. A traffic stop was initiated on Munoz, but he failed to yield. A vehicle pursuit was initiated and ended in a foot pursuit. Munoz was apprehended and officers secured the Jeep he was driving. The Jeep contained approximately 30 kilograms of fentanyl.
Court records detail that agents also found approximately eight kilograms of fentanyl with Gaytan in a room at the Red Roof Inn. They also discovered a storage locker in Columbus where a duffel bag of vacuum-sealed bulk currency was located.
Munoz pleaded guilty in June 2021 to conspiring to possess and possessing with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; James C. Harris III, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Kent Kleinschmidt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Richard S. Fambro and Westerville Police Chief Charles Chandler announced the sentence imposed by Senior U.S. District Judge James L. Graham. OCDETF Deputy Criminal Chief Kelly A. Norris is representing the United States in this case.
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