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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Little Rock sentencing in US District Court deals 11-years for Fentanyl trafficking charge

Herbierto Felix Ruiz, 48, was sentenced last week for conspiracy to possess fentanyl with intent to distribute and given 132 months in federal prison for his involvement in a fentanyl conspiracy that took him through Russellville in 2017.

On September 28, 2017, the Arkansas State Police conducted a traffic stop in Russellville when a silver Hyundai Santa Fe crossed the center line on Interstate 40. Ruiz was the front seat passenger, and his name was on the car’s rental agreement. Ruiz had rented the car two days earlier in California.

When the driver of the car and Ruiz gave conflicting stories to the officer, the officer asked to search their vehicle, and Ruiz consented to the search. The trooperound six packages wrapped in duct tape and hidden in the vehicle’s spare tire. The spare tire was a 15-inch tire, but the vehicle required 17-inch tires. The packages turned out to be over 15 pounds of fentanyl, which had a street value of over $6 million.

In November 2017, a grand jury charged Ruiz with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl. Then, in February 2018, an auto salvage business contacted law enforcement to report they had located a suspicious package in a vehicle they had purchased at auction from a car rental company. The vehicle was the same Hyundai Santa Fe from Ruiz’ previous traffic stop, and it contained an additional five kilograms of fentanyl that had not been found in the initial search.

On April 3, 2018, a grand jury charged Ruiz, and others, in a Superseding Indictment to increase the amount of fentanyl involved in the offense. Ruiz pleaded guilty on October 10, 2019.

On May 21, United States Chief District Court Judge D. Price Marshall, Jr., sentenced Ruiz to 11 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.

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