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Case Closed on 'Vast Conspiracy' to Smuggle Heroin Into Oregon

One final defendant in an extensive drug trafficking trial has been sentenced in Portland to 151 months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Posted: Mar 28, 2018 3:10 PM
Updated: Mar 28, 2018 3:26 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. — After over three years, the trial of 22 defendants accused of drug trafficking in Portland has finally closed. 36-year-old Misraim Israel Briones Pasos of Nayarit, Mexico, was sentenced on Wednesday to 151 months in prison for his role in the smuggling of "hundred of pounds" of black tar heroin from Mexico to Portland, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

“At a time when communities are reeling from the effects of the opioid crisis, there are criminal organizations whose sole purpose is to profit off addiction. At its peak, this network was bringing up to 10 pounds of heroin into the Portland area every week – nearly 45,000 single doses,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

The investigation of Pasos' organization began when an informant tipped off police regarding Cory Jaques—later to become one of the 22 defendants in the trial. The tip indicated that Jaques was selling heroin and oxycodone from his house in southwest Portland.

After a series of controlled buys and surveillance details, investigators tracked Jaques' supply to Pasos and another co-defendant, Melchor Luna Rodriguez. In 2014, a federal wiretap investigation was opened.

In-depth investigation revealed that Pasos managed one of several Portland-area heroin cells, all receiving their heroin from a single Nayarit, Mexico-based supplier. Suppliers brought as much as 10 pounds of heroin into the metropolitan area every week.

By 2015, investigators had thoroughly observed the organization's methods of transport and money movement via banks, bulk cash smuggling and wire transfers.

In February of that year, a federal grand jury in Portland issued a multi-count indictment of those 22 defendants—allowing investigators to execute search and arrest warrants at 24 locations across four states. Three years later, in February of 2018, all "principal targets" were convicted and the court had ordered more than $1.4 million in forfeiture money judgments.

“Lives are being lost at an alarming rate everyday due to opioid affliction,” said Keith Weis, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Seattle. “We must be steadfast in stopping those most responsible for this shameful profiteering.”

The case involved cooperation from eight different agencies—the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), FBI, IRS, U.S. Marshals Service, the Portland Police Bureau Drugs and Vice Division, the Clackamas County Interagency Taskforce, and the Westside Interagency Narcotics Team (WIN). Thomas Edmonds and Steven Mygrant, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon, made up the prosecution.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed ineffective border control for the drug trafficking. “Most of the heroin in this country came here across our porous Southern Border. Traffickers from Nayarit, like these defendants, have become notorious across the United States for their effectiveness in dispensing cheap and powerful heroin. We will never know the full extent of the consequences of their actions," said Attorney General Sessions.

You can find a complete list of the 22 defendants below:

Christopher Guillen-Robles, 23, of Pomona, California – 151 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.
Misraim Israel Briones Pasos (a.k.a. Mario Ozuna), 36, of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico – 151 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.
Jose Luis Mamani-Vidal, 51, of Salt Lake City, Utah – 128 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.
Alexis Guillen-Robles, 22, of Perris, California – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.
Melchor Luna Rodriguez (a.k.a. Jose Luis Mendez Chavez), 35, of Apatzingán, Michoacán, Mexico – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.
Jose Mata, 30, of Hillsboro, Oregon – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.
Cipriano Andrade-Lopez (a.k.a. Burras and Burra) 40, of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.
Juan Carlos Vega Rivera (a.k.a. Fidel Lnu and Laylo), 34, of Mexico City, Mexico – 120 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.
Geovany Munoz, 22, of Long Beach, California – 97 months in prison and four years’ supervised release.
Cory Allyn Jaques, 40, of Tigard, Oregon – 78 months in prison and four years’ supervised release.
Irvin David Jaimes Perez (a.k.a. Leonardo Lnu and Miguel Garsia-Frores), 32, of Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico – 63 months in prison and four years’ supervised release.
Francisco Rodriguez-Esqueda (a.k.a. Borrego), 32, of Xalisco, Nayarit, Mexico – 62 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.
Joel Orozco-Estrada, 23, of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico – 60 months in prison and three years’ supervised release.
Franz Ulises Mendoza-Pasos (a.k.a. Chulo, Oscar Lnu, and Jael Mejia-Romo), 32, of El Refugio Testarazo, Nayarit, Mexico – 57 months in prison and three years’ supervised release.
Fabian Gonzalez-Avila (a.k.a. Francisco, Hammer, and Tamburete), 24, of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico – 57 months in prison and three years’ supervised release.
Jose Huanaco-Casildo, 33, of Forest Grove, Oregon – 57 months in prison and four years’ supervised release.
Jose Najar-Celis, 34, of Venustiano Carranza, Nayarit, Mexico – 50 months in prison and three years’ supervised release.
Christian Enrique Chavez-Esqueda (a.k.a. Sapo), 30, of Xalisco, Nayarit, Mexico – 42 months in prison and three years’ supervised release.
Lisa Miriam Wendell, 38, of Billings, Montana – 41 months in prison and four years’ supervised release.
Jose Jorge Tobon-Ortega (a.k.a. Puebla and Fnu Lnu), 39, of Molcaxac, Puebla, Mexico – 36 months in prison and three years’ supervised release.
Christian Llanos-Javier (a.k.a. Chacal), 29, of Portland, Oregon – 28 months in prison and three years’ supervised release.
Mary Elizabeth Henlin, 37, of Portland, Oregon – time served in prison and five years’ supervised release.

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