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April 15, 2021Reno, NV, United StatesContraband, Narcotics

3 Nevada men indicted on fentanyl distribution charges

RENO, Nev. — A federal grand jury returned indictments in March and this month, charging three residents of Sparks, Nevada, for their alleged roles in the distribution of fentanyl, following a probe by multiple federal and local law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jury trials have been scheduled for May 17, before Chief U.S. District Judge Miranda Du and U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks.

“The success of these indictments highlights the importance and necessity of law enforcement partnerships across the spectrum,” said Francisco Burrola, special agent in charge for HSI Las Vegas. “The narcotics seized in this investigation ensures that they will not enter the drug distribution supply chain and inevitably harm the public. We are proud to be part of the team making our communities safer.”

Jesse Arevalo, aka “Kay,” 30, and Francisco Navarro-Delgado, 32, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, cocaine and heroin, and one count of maintaining drug involved premises. Arevalo is also charged with five counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. According to allegations in the superseding indictment against him, from February to April 2021, Arevalo possessed with the intent to distribute at least 400 grams of fentanyl and at least 500 grams of cocaine.

According to allegations in the indictment and arguments made in court, from about November 2019 to March 2021, Arevalo and Navarro-Delgado conspired to maintain several apartments for the purpose of storing and distributing large quantities of fentanyl and cocaine. Arevalo acquired thousands of fentanyl pills as well as kilograms of cocaine per month, using those apartments to store and distribute the controlled substances. Further, from about November 2019 to February 2020, Arevalo allegedly used students at a southeast Reno, Nevada, high school to distribute controlled substances, including fentanyl pills on his behalf.

In a related case, Jaime Collazo Munoz, aka “Chivo,” 33, was indicted on four counts of distribution of a controlled substance (specifically, fentanyl). According to allegations in the indictment against him, from July 2020 to November 2020, Munoz distributed at least 80 grams of fentanyl.

“During the pandemic, Nevada has seen an increase in overdoses, as illegal drugs and illicit drug use continue to exact an enormous toll across our state,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou for the District of Nevada. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we will keep fighting to stop the distribution of drugs in our communities — particularly schemes that get children and youth involved in drug sales and trafficking.”

“Fentanyl and other highly potent synthetic opioids remain the primary driver behind the ongoing opioid crisis with counterfeit prescription pills being the most prevalent form of exposure,” said Aimee Koontz, acting resident agent in charge for DEA Reno. “Individuals that prey on our youth and community by distributing these potentially lethal counterfeit pills pressed with fentanyl will be held accountable. These fake pills are disguised to look like prescription pills, but in reality, taking one is no different than playing Russian roulette that is fueling the opioid epidemic.”

“This time last year our community was reeling because of shocking fentanyl overdose deaths,” said Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam. “I asked for the DEA’s support in investigating the distribution of opiates in our region, and ultimately agents ended up adopting our drug cases due to their national and international implications. I am extremely grateful to the DEA and federal, state and local law enforcement partners for their diligent work on the cases. I promise you and every member of our community, we will not stop fighting illegal drug trafficking in Washoe County.”

Arevalo, Navarro-Delgado, and Munoz were charged by two indictments on March 25, and Arevalo was charged with additional criminal offenses on April 15. Arevalo and Munoz were detained and remanded to custody, and Navarro-Delgado was released on a personal recognizance bond.

If convicted, Arevalo faces a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000,000. If convicted, Navarro-Delgado, and Munoz each face a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000,000.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine: only a few milligrams of this chemical compound, equivalent to a few grains of table salt, are enough to cause a fatal overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 70 percent of the nearly 71,000 drug overdoses in 2019 involved an opioid.

The cases were investigated by the DEA and Washoe County Sheriff’s Office with assistance by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), HSI, United States Marshals Service (USMS), Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada Highway Patrol K-9, Regional Gang Unit, Regional Narcotics Unit, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office K-9, Sparks Police Department K-9, and (Regional) Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andolyn Johnson is prosecuting the cases.

An indictment merely alleges that a crime has been committed. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Suspicious activity can be submitted online at ice.gov/tipline, by phone at 866-DHS-2-ICE, or by contacting your local HSI office.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is a directorate and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 04/20/2021