Leader And Three Co-Conspirators Of Methamphetamine Trafficking Ring Operating In Henderson County Area Are Sentenced To Prison
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Today, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. sentenced the leader and three co-conspirators to prison terms ranging from 57 months to 70 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 the defendants as follows:
Maria Del Ruiz-Zazueta, 45, of Hendersonville to 57 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Stephanie Alvarenga, 24, of Hendersonville to 63 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Daniel Alfaro, 24, of Laurel Park to 70 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
Antonio Barbosa, 34, of Hendersonville to 63 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
Judge Cogburn previously sentenced four other conspirators: Nahuan Solano, 27, of Hendersonville, N.C. was sentenced to 63 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release; Eric Lee Garber, 41, of Saluda, N.C. was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release; Benjamin Nelson, 31, of Hendersonville, was sentenced to 57 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release; and Allan Collado-Raudez, 23, of Asheville, N.C. was sentenced to 39 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.
According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, from about May 2014 to May 2015, the conspirators were involved in a drug trafficking ring, 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 and Alfaro were methamphetamine traffickers and acted as runners 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. During the traffic stop, law enforcement seized nearly 10 pounds of methamphetamine from a backpack located in the trunk of the car.
The four 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.
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.