COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - The final member of a heroin trafficking organization that involved illegal aliens who conspired to distribute kilograms of heroin worth hundreds of thousands of dollars across the Tri-State was sentenced Tuesday.
Juan Luis Flores-Lara, 29, of Nayarit, Mexico, received a sentence of 37 months in prison handed down by United States District Court Judge David L. Bunning for conspiracy to distribute heroin.
This was the eighth and final sentencing resulting from a long-term investigation conducted by numerous federal and state officials.
Investigators say members of the conspiracy distributed heroin in Campbell, Boone and Kenton Counties. They were recruited from Mexico to come to this area to serve as street-level distributors. Once they arrived, the group provided them with living quarters, cellular phones, and vehicles to drive. Established members of the group took telephone orders for heroin from addicts and sent the street distributors to make the actual transactions.
Investigators say the conspirators packaged the heroin in balloons and stored the balloons in their mouths while in route to conduct transactions so they could swallow the evidence if approached by police.
"This effort shut down a major source of heroin for Northern Kentucky and Southern Ohio," said the Eastern District's U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.
Undercover officers bought heroin from various members of the conspiracy on multiple occasions from February of 2011 through June of 2011. Search warrants were executed on various locations in Kentucky and Ohio on April 6, 2011 and June 23, 2011.
Overall, eight members of the group were arrested and all of them were initially from the area of Nayarit, Mexico and had entered the United States illegally. Four of them had been previously deported from the United States.
Agents seized heroin from four different locations during the execution of the warrants. One location, an apartment on Princeton Square Circle in West Chester, Ohio, was used as a stash house for the group and contained over four kilograms of heroin. This heroin was worth well in excess of $500,000.
The members of the group were initially indicted in federal court in July of 2011 and pled guilty in October of 2011. Fernando Aguilar-Ochoa and Jonatan Flores- Guerrero were identified as leaders in the conspiracy; each received a sentence of 188 months in prison.
Ricardo Sanchez-Marquez and Edgar Garcia-Hernandez each received a 120 month prison sentence. Antonio Hernandez-Casillas was sentenced to 60 months in prison, Samuel Mojica-Garcia was sentenced to 42 months and Miguel Velazquez-Lares received a 30 month sentence.