KAUFMAN, Texas — UPDATE [Sept. 18] — A Kaufman man has pled guilty in federal court to transporting 10 kilograms of fentanyl, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Western District of Louisiana.
Brandon Montoya, now 24 years old, of Kaufman, Texas, pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. Montoya's co-defendent, 22-year-old Felipe Rodriguez of McAllen, Texas, lso pled guilty in the case.
Both face up to 10 years to life in prison, at least five years of supervised release, and a $10 million fine at the time of sentencing which is scheduled for January 31, 2019.
Prosecutors say the pair was transporting enough fentanyl to kill five million people — more than the population of the entire state of Louisiana.
“Fentanyl is the greatest and the most significant synthetic opioid threat to the United States, including here in Louisiana, where as little as 2 milligrams is a lethal dose,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam “The seizure in this investigation, which was 10 kilograms, saved countless lives – there was enough fentanyl to kill 5 million people."
“Fentanyl kills, and drug dealers are selling this highly addictive drug at a growing rate,” stated United States Attorney David C. Joseph. "The Department of Justice in collaboration with state and local law enforcement are fighting daily to limit the availability and spread of this deadly drug."
"This case alone involved enough fentanyl to kill everybody in the state of Louisiana," stated Joseph.
ORIGINAL [May 10] — A Kaufman man was arrested in Louisiana for transporting more than 10 kilograms of fentanyl from California to Atlanta, Georgia, federal prosecutors announced earlier today.
23-year-old Brandon Montoya of Kaufman, Texas, and 21-year-old Felipe Rodriguez of McAllen, Texas, were arrested earlier today by a Louisiana State Police trooper who conducted a traffic stop on their vehicle as it traveled eastbound on Interstate 20 near mile marker 31.
Montoya and Rodriguez made their initial appearance earlier today before United States Magistrate Judge Mark L. Hornsby. Both were charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.
During the traffic stop, the trooper searched the vehicle and found a compartment in the rear cargo area where, through a hole in the compartment, the trooper could see a plastic bag containing an unknown substance.
The SUV was taken to Louisiana State Police Troop G headquarters where, upon thorough search, troopers discovered 10 plastic 1-kilogram bags containing fentanyl.
"The defendants admitted to transporting the drugs," stated United States Attorney David C. Joseph. "They said they had been approached in Houston to travel to California to obtain the drugs. They were then instructed to drive to Atlanta, Georgia, where they would be paid for the delivery."
Montoya and Rodriguez face up to 10 years to life in prison, at least five years of supervised release, and a $10 million fine. Both will remain jailed until their May 15 detention hearing.
"Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid," stated Joseph. "In recent years it has become more widely available in the United States and grown as a threat to public safety."
"It only takes a very small amount of fentanyl or its derivatives- which can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin or mucus membranes (such as being inhaled through the nose or mouth)- to result in severe adverse reactions including death," he stated.