Tucson, AZ–A State Grand Jury indicted 11 individuals accused of shipping illegal drugs and contraband across the country through the United Parcel Service (UPS).
The individuals involved in the ring face 48 felony counts, including money laundering, transportation of marijuana for sale, transportation of narcotic drugs for sale, misconduct involving weapons, and illegally conducting an enterprise. The charges stem from a multiyear investigation involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Tucson Police Department (TPD) officers who are part of the Counter Narcotics Alliance (CNA).
The investigation began in 2017 when HSI special agents and TPD officers discovered that UPS employees in the Tucson area were allegedly using the UPS distribution network to ship illegal drugs and other contraband. UPS employees Mario Arvisu Barcelo, Michael Anthony Castro, Gary Lamont Love, Thomas Alfred Mendoza, along with their non-employee associates, Victor Manuel Alexander Molina, Martin Octavio Siqueiros-Diaz, and Jonathan Sanchez Gallegos, were reportedly able to ship packages undetected across the country by using closed business accounts. Specifically, between November 2018 and June 2019, undercover officers shipped and received packages, supposedly containing illegal drugs and illegal drug proceeds, by routing them through the shipment center in Tucson.
As alleged in the indictment, in May 2019, law enforcement officers learned that marijuana had been shipped from Tucson, intended for delivery at a North Carolina destination. HSI agents interdicted the package in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the shipment purportedly contained 12.6 pounds of marijuana.
As part of their investigation, officers identified Abraham Felix-Navarro, Fernando Navarro-Figueroa, Raul Garcia Cordova, and Heriberto Martinez-Bojorquez as allegedly being involved in the manufacture and the sale of thousands of counterfeit THC vape pens.
In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began investigating an outbreak of lung injuries associated with e-cigarettes, or vaping, products. The CDC discovered that vape pens containing counterfeit THC were most commonly associated with lung injuries. As a result, the CDC recommends people should not use THC-containing e-cigarettes, or vaping products, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or online dealers.