Drug Conspirators Are Sentenced To Prison For Trafficking Fentanyl And Methamphetamine

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Dena J. King announced today that Jose Francisco Vasquez-Rico, 22, and Andrew Estiben Reyna-Rodriguez, 23, both of Charlotte, were sentenced to 168 months and 51 months in prison, respectively, for trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine. U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell also ordered the defendants to serve five years of supervised release upon completion of their prison terms.

According to filed court documents and court proceedings, between September 2020 and January 2021, Vasquez-Rico and Reyna-Rodriguez conspired with each other and other individuals to traffic narcotics, including fentanyl and methamphetamine, in Mecklenburg, Gaston, and Cleveland Counties. Court documents and information presented at the sentencing hearing showed that Vasquez-Rico was the head of the local drug ring. Over the course of the investigation, undercover agents posing as customers purchased fentanyl and methamphetamine on multiple occasions from Vasquez-Rico and Reyna-Rodriguez.

According to court documents and information presented at the sentencing hearing, on one occasion, Vasquez-Rico arranged to sell a kilogram of fentanyl to an undercover agent and agreed to meet the undercover agent in Asheville. While Vasquez-Rico and Reyna-Rodriguez were driving to Asheville to deliver the fentanyl, a North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper conducted a traffic stop of their vehicle. The defendants initially stopped their car, but then sped off soon when the trooper exited his police vehicle. After speeding away, the pair briefly pulled over to the side of a country road and attempted to hide in the woods a bag and a loaded firearm, which law enforcement subsequently recovered.

According to court documents and information presented at the sentencing hearing, on January 8, 2021, Vasquez-Rico lured a courier who worked for another drug trafficker to a parking lot in Charlotte. The courier and his three small children arrived in a vehicle at the agreed-upon location. Vasquez-Rico and another individual proceeded to kidnap the courier and his children, demanding a vehicle and a kilogram press (which is a machine used to form narcotics into kilogram-sized “bricks”) in exchange for their release. Vasquez-Rico released the hostages after he took possession of the vehicle and the kilogram press.

Vasquez-Rico and Reyna-Rodriguez both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine, and distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Both defendants are currently in custody and will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation.

OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles criminal organizations using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the Gastonia Police Department, the Gaston County Police Department, the Lincolnton Police Department, and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol for their coordination and investigation of the case.

Assistant United States Attorney Taylor G. Stout, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.