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March 22, 2023McAllen, TX, United StatesNarcotics

"Suicide Squad" sentenced for trafficking drugs worth over $1.6M following HSI McAllen, federal partner investigation

MCALLEN, Texas — U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced that three people have been sent to prison for conspiracy to import heroin and fentanyl into the United States from Mexico.

Elias Herrera, 31; Liz Jomayra Diaz-Colon, 23; and Jonathan Guemez, 30, previously pleaded guilty and admitted they had conspired together to import the drugs into the United States. All three people are from Nashville, Tennessee.

On March 20, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane imposed an 87-month term of imprisonment for Herrera to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. Evidence presented in court showed that Herrera had recruited his co-defendants and smuggled heroin and fentanyl for a period of eight months prior to his arrest. In handing down the prison term, Crane noted Herrera’s extensive involvement in drug smuggling as a recruiter and organizer.

“Anyone contemplating importing dangerous drugs like heroin and fentanyl should ask themselves if they are prepared to forfeit their freedom for years to come when justice is served,” said HSI San Antonio acting Special Agent in Charge Alejandro M. Amaro. “HSI is committed to working tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle individuals like Diaz-Colon and Guemez involved in trafficking in dangerous contraband.”

Diaz-Colon and Guemez were previously sentenced to 36 and 87 months in federal prison, respectively, and must serve four years on supervised release.

In 2021, Diaz-Colon, Herrera and Guemez began working with Mexican drug traffickers to coordinate transportation of multiple drug loads into the United States.

On Aug. 20, 2021, Diaz-Colon attempted to pass through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint. A K-9 alerted to her Jeep Cherokee, resulting in the discovery of 4.66 kilograms of heroin concealed in the battery.

The following day, Herrera attempted to enter the United States. Authorities also discovered narcotics in his vehicle — 4.76 kilograms of fentanyl in the car’s battery.

Guemez also attempted to bring drugs into the country. Law enforcement seized 3.94 kilograms of heroin from his vehicle.

The investigation connected all three people and revealed they communicated with each other through WhatsApp, referring to themselves as the “Suicide Squad.”

At the time of their pleas, they admitted they had conspired together to import a total of 8.6 kilograms of heroin and 4.76 kilograms of fentanyl into the United States. The drugs have an estimated street value of approximately $1,622,880.

Herrera will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eliza Carmen Rodriguez for the Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case. 

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.