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3 Mexican nationals found with over 1M fentanyl pills in SoCal plead guilty

Fentanyl found in arrest in March 2023
Fentanyl found in arrest in March 2023

Three Mexican men who were arrested in El Monte with more than 1 million fentanyl pills pleaded guilty today to a federal narcotics charge.

At a hearing in Los Angeles federal court, the three defendants -- all from Sinaloa, Mexico -- entered their pleas to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The defendants -- Florencio Camacho Allan, 29; Gerardo Gaxiola Patiño, 30; and Alex Valdez Oroz, 26 -- are set to be sentenced Aug. 13, when each will face between 10 years in federal prison and life imprisonment.   

According to their plea agreements, from September 2022 to March 2023, the  defendants conspired with each other and others to knowingly distribute fentanyl. Prior to March 7, 2023, a Mexico-based drug broker arranged a deal with a buyer to sell about 2 million fentanyl pills. The deal
was expected to occur in the Los Angeles area and the buyer agreed to pay about 75 cents per pill. As part of the deal, the buyer also agreed to first purchase a sample "box" of about 10,000 fentanyl pills at the same price, according to court papers.

On March 7, 2023, the drug broker coordinated a meeting between Allan and the buyer at a Denny's restaurant in El Segundo. Later that day, Allan, Patiño, and Oroz arrived in a white car at the Denny's, and while Oroz waited in the driver's seat of the car, Allan and Patiño met the buyer and the buyer's associate inside the restaurant, where they discussed a plan to sell about 1 million fentanyl pills that day, and another 1 million fentanyl pills the next day, according to federal prosecutors.

After the meeting, Allan, Patiño, the buyer and the associate went to the white car, where Patiño retrieved a black bag, containing about 10,082 fentanyl pills, weighing approximately 2.5 pounds, and handed it to the buyer in exchange for $7,500. The three defendants then drove away.

Later that day, Allan confirmed with one of the buyers that they had possession of the larger set of pills and -- via a WhatsApp video call -- showed one buyer the pills, which appeared to be in the car's trunk. They agreed to do the 1 million fentanyl pill deal in a Holiday Inn parking lot in El Monte, court papers show.   

At the Holiday Inn, law enforcement detained Allan and Oroz in theparking lot. Officers also found and detained Patiño, who was inside the Holiday Inn lobby bathroom.

Inside the white car, authorities found at least three duffle bags in the trunk and back seat, each containing bundles of fentanyl pills. In total, the defendants knowingly possessed with intent to distribute about 1 million fentanyl pills, weighing approximately 241 pounds, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Article Topic Follows: Fentanyl Crisis

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