Pair of Mexican Nationals Sentenced in Large Scale Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy
Blas Rodriguez-Avila and Hector Naal-Huchin Affiliated with the Mexican Drug Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG)
Harrisonburg, VIRGINIA – A pair of Mexican nationals associated with one of the most dangerous drug cartels in Mexico were sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg for illegally distributing large amounts of cocaine in and around the Winchester area, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced.
Blas Rodriguez-Avila, a.k.a. “Kiko” a.k.a. “Flaco,” 28, was sentenced Wednesday, February 27, 2019 to 156 months in prison. The defendant previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and one count of receiving and possessing a firearm while an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States.
Hector Manuel Naal-Huchin, a.k.a. “Yuca,” 32, was sentenced Wednesday, February 27, 2019 to 130 months in prison. The defendant previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine.
“These defendants were part of a drug cartel that is responsible for distributing thousands of grams of cocaine in the Shenandoah Valley,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners throughout the region to dismantle these drug-trafficking organizations and send their members to federal prison.”
“DEA and our partners work hard every day to ensure the safety of our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Jesse R. Fong. “Following this case through to sentencing shows our commitment to hold accountable those who jeopardize the safety of our neighborhoods. We will continue to make it our priority to investigate and hold accountable these powerful cartels that have a callous disregard for the destruction they cause.”
“The Northwest Virginia (NWVA) Regional Drug and Gang Task Force is appreciative of its member agencies and our federal partners for their hard work and dedicated efforts put forth for this extensive, multi-state, transnational investigation,” said Special Agent Joshua Price, NWVA Regional Drug and Gang Task Force Coordinator. “Not only did these collaborative efforts cut off a significant supplier of cocaine to the City of Winchester and the Upper Shenandoah region, but also shut down an extremely violent drug network that stretched from coast to coast.”
According to evidence presented at court hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa, Rodriguez-Avila and Naal-Huchin were both affiliated with the powerful drug cartel, Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG). CJNG is one of the most powerful cartels in Mexico and the Department of Justice considers it to be one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world, responsible for trafficking many tons of cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl-laced heroin into the United States, as well as for violence and significant loss of life in Mexico.
Between 2017 and 2018, Rodriguez-Avila traveled between California, Texas and Virginia to direct the transport of large quantities of cocaine into the Winchester area. Rodriguez-Avila served as a source of cocaine supply for dealers in the area, including Naal-Huchin, and employed several others to bring shipments of multiple kilograms of cocaine at a time into Winchester, paying them between $2,000 and $5,000 to drive vehicles with hidden compartments carrying up to 5 kilograms of cocaine from Texas to Virginia and from California to Virginia. In the fall of 2017, Rodriguez-Avila paid one of his drug couriers to act as a straw purchaser to obtain two semi-automatic rifles and a shotgun for him from a gun store in Winchester.
On February 1, 2018, law enforcement intercepted Rodriguez-Avila as he was bringing two drug couriers to the airport to fly from Washington, D.C. to California with instructions to drive cocaine back to Virginia. Rodriguez-Avila had given $12,000 in bulk cash to the drug couriers to smuggle to California. That same day, agents executed search warrants at the residences of Rodriguez-Avila and Naal-Huchin, where they found a kilogram of cocaine, cutting and packaging materials, a ledger of drug transactions, and an additional $4,500 in cash.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force (NWVRDGTF), the Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa prosecuted the case for the United States.
This investigation was funded in part by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program. The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.
The NWVRDGTF uses the combined efforts of local, state, and federal agencies to actively pursue those groups or individuals who manufacture, distribute, or sell illegal narcotics. The NWVRDGTF is comprised of the Virginia State Police, the Winchester Police Department, the Front Royal Police Department, the Strasburg Police Department, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, the Page County Sheriff’s Office, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, and the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office.