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Press Release

Four Sentenced To Prison For Their Involvement In Methamphetamine Trafficking Ring Operating In Henderson County Area

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

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. today sentenced four men to prison terms ranging from 63 months to 39 months for their involvement in a methamphetamine trafficking ring operating in the Henderson county area, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. 

U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by Daniel R. Salter, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office and Sheriff Charles S. McDonald of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Cogburn sentenced Nahuan Solano, 27, of Hendersonville, N.C. to 63 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release; Eric Lee Garber, 41, of Saluda, N.C. to 60 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release; Benjamin Nelson, 31, of Hendersonville, to 57 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release; and Allan Collado-Raudez, 23, of Asheville, N.C. to 39 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.  They each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, from about May 2014 to May 2015, the four men were involved in a drug trafficking conspiracy, responsible for distributing significant quantities of methamphetamine in Henderson county and surrounding areas.  According to court records, Maria Del Ruiz-Zazueta was the leader of the drug ring and was assisted by her daughter, Stephanie Alvarenga, in supplying the methamphetamine to their co-conspirators.  Solano was a methamphetamine trafficker and acted as a runner for Ruiz-Zazueta and Alvarenga.  According to court records, the ring’s customers included area methamphetamine traffickers Garber and Nelson.   Ruiz-Zazueta and other members of the ring utilized Antonio Barbosa as an alternate source of supply, who was assisted by Collado-Raudez.

Court records show that, on or about May 4, 2015, law enforcement in Oklahoma conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle in which Alvarenga was a passenger.  According to court records, Alvarenga and the driver of the vehicle were headed from California to North Carolina, to meet Alvarenga’s mother.  During the traffic stop, law enforcement seized nearly 10 pounds of methamphetamine from a backpack located in the trunk of the car. 

The four men sentenced today are in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.  All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

Four others, Maria Del Ruiz-Zazueta, Stephanie Alvarenga, Daniel Alfaro, and Antonio Barbosa have also entered guilty pleas for their involvement in the drug conspiracy and are currently awaiting sentencing.

Two more conspirators, Wade Henderson and Edwardo Lopez are currently charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  

The investigation was handled by the DEA and the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Asheville is in charge of the prosecution.

Updated March 8, 2016