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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Three drug smugglers face sentencing in 2019 heroin indictment

Three men have pleaded guilty this week for their roles in a heroin trafficking operation with ties to Mexico’s New Generation Cartel, according to U.S. Attorney Trent Shores of the Oklahoma Norterh District.

The three were among more than 30 individuals indicted for drug conspiracy and other crimes related to the cartel’s operations. U.S. Attorney Trent Shores announced the initial indictment at a press conference held in May 2019. The investigation was given the name Operation Smack Dragon.

“Operation Smack Dragon successfully disrupted and dismantled a drug trafficking organization pushing heroin onto our streets. Today, three more conspirators have admitted their guilt and will soon be headed to federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “Joel-lyn McCormick, lead attorney for my Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit, and our dedicated law enforcement partners relentlessly pursue justice for families and communities devastated by the illegal drug trade. Heroin and other illicit opioids remain a problem in our country. We will continue the fight to keep them out of Oklahoma.”

“Investigations such as these cannot be successful without DEA Tulsa’s partnership of our numerous law enforcement partners in Eastern Oklahoma and the Texoma High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Initiative,” said Eduardo A. Chávez, special agent in charge DEA Dallas Field Division.  “These individuals are being held responsible for their actions. Whether it is a gram or a kilogram, heroin is poisoning our streets and we remain steadfast in our commitment to rid these drugs from the streets of Oklahoma.”

“This successful joint investigation is a great example of what impactful partnerships and close coordination can result in,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge Homeland Security Investigations Dallas. “HSI will always prioritize eliminating threats posed by transnational criminal organizations and will partner with anybody who shares that commitment!"

David Diaz, 32, pleaded guilty on Aug. 21, 2020, to drug conspiracy. In his written plea, Diaz stated that he knowingly conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin from January 2018 to June 2019. Diaz admitted to purchasing 100 grams or more of heroin for another person and redistributing it to third parties. He relied on customers’ payments to purchase additional heroin. Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan on Dec. 2, 2020.

Preston Wilson, 28, pleaded guilty, on Aug. 17, 2020, to drug conspiracy. In his written plea, Wilson stated that he knowingly conspired with others to possess heroin with the intent to distribute from January 2018 to June 2019. During this time, he admitted to purchasing heroin from Devin Hartzell to redistribute to third parties. Wilson also admitted that he relied on the payments from his customers to purchase additional heroin. Wilson is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan on Nov. 23, 2020.

According to the Indictment, the alleged transnational criminal organization’s hierarchy had clearly defined roles, as leaders from Mexico supplied heroin to the Tulsa “cell heads.” These “cell heads” were originally from Mexico but lived in Tulsa.

Stille Giovanni Gutierrez Vivanco, allegedly directed, from Mexico, the overall drug trafficking operations in Tulsa by delegating responsibilities for the import and distribution of the heroin and for the movement of the proceeds from heroin sales. The criminal organization smuggled heroin into the United States and transported the drug to storage locations in Tulsa where they prepared it for distribution throughout the United States.

After preparing the heroin, the coconspirators would repackage it for distribution to mid-level distributers, who would then redistribute it to street-level dealers until it eventually found its way into the hands of customers.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations led the investigation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service- Criminal Investigation; the Oklahoma State Attorney General’s Office; and Tulsa Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn McCormick is prosecuting this case. AUSA McCormick is the Lead Attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

You can find the May 2019 Indictment announcement here.

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