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May 17, 2023Nogales, AZ, United StatesNarcotics

HSI Nogales, DEA investigation results in guilty plea for final member of drug trafficking conspiracy

NOGALES, Ariz. — An Arizona man pleaded guilty on May 8 to Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl and Methamphetamines before a United States District Judge following a case by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Carlos Alberto Castro-Ruiz, 26, of Phoenix, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 18.

Castro-Ruiz’s co-conspirators also pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl and Methamphetamines. On April 13, Alexander Ortega-Islas, 22, of Phoenix, pleaded guilty and Keivin Crosswell-Cervantes, 27, of Mexico, pleaded guilty on May 2. Sentencing hearings are scheduled for July 10 and July 17, respectively.

The three co-conspirators all admitted that they delivered approximately 400,000 blue fentanyl pills, approximately 20,000 multi-colored fentanyl pills (“skittles”) and approximately 25 pounds of methamphetamines to undercover officers on Sept. 22, 2022. Law enforcement officers also seized an AK-47-style pistol, a .45 caliber Kimber 1911 semi-automatic pistol with two magazines and a .45 caliber FN semi-automatic pistol.

A conviction for Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl and Methamphetamines carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, a fine up to $10,000,000, or both.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Assistant United States Attorney Matthew G. Eltringham, District of Arizona, Tucson, is handling the prosecution.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 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 more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States and 93 overseas locations in 56 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.