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Press Release

Phoenix Man, Woman Charged for Possessing Five Kilos of Cocaine

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Phoenix, Ariz., man and woman have been charged in federal court after five kilograms of cocaine were found in their truck during a highway interdiction.

Luis J. Duarte, 58, and Adriana Gutierrez-Ramirez, also known as Adriana Peralta, 42, both of Phoenix, were charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Springfield on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, with possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute. Duarte and Gutierrez-Ramirez, who had an initial court appearance yesterday, remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Thursday, March 2, 2017.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the federal criminal complaint, a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper stopped a 2016 Ford F350 cargo utility Budget rental truck traveling eastbound on I-44 in Greene County, Mo., on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. The truck, being driven by Duarte with Gutierrez-Ramirez as passenger, allegedly weaved onto the shoulder three times.

During the traffic stop, the affidavit says, the trooper noted discrepancies in statements made by Duarte and Gutierrez-Ramirez, and both seemed extremely nervous. The trooper searched the vehicle and discovered a kilogram-sized package of cocaine. Four additional kilogram-sized packages of cocaine were discovered during a later search of the vehicle. The packages were located inside a cardboard box containing clothing towards the front of the cargo area of the truck.

Duarte and Gutierrez-Ramirez told law enforcement officers that they were being paid to drive the truck from Phoenix to Ohio.

Dickinson cautioned that the charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nhan D. Nguyen. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Updated February 28, 2017

Drug Trafficking