Heroin bust in Castor Gardens intercepts 17-pound shipment


Sev­en par­ti­cipants in an al­leged heroin smug­gling and dis­tri­bu­tion op­er­a­tion are fa­cing felony charges after fed­er­al agents in­ter­cep­ted a 17-pound ship­ment of the drug on its way to a North­east Philly pro­cessing house last month.

The sus­pects con­cealed the heroin in­side a dozen sealed cans bear­ing Mex­ic­an fruit and ve­get­able la­bels, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in Phil­adelphia.

Gary Diaz, 28; San Juan­ita Diaz, 28; and Mon­ica Laque, 26, all of San Ant­o­nio, Texas, were in trans­it to Phil­adelphia when agents ar­res­ted them on Sept. 18 in Nashville, Tenn. Jose Es­trada, 65, of Von Ormy, Texas, al­legedly sup­plied the drugs to the trio and prom­ised to pay them $16,000 for de­liv­er­ing the ship­ment.

After the ar­rests, agents su­per­vised the cour­i­ers as they com­pleted their jour­ney to a row­house at 6634 Sylvester St. in Castor Gar­dens the fol­low­ing day. Juan Car­los Var­gas, a.k.a. “Gordo,” 25, al­legedly re­ceived the drugs and handed $16,000 to the cour­i­ers.

Agents then raided the Sylvester Street house and ar­res­ted Var­gas, along with his broth­er, Wilmer Var­gas, 21, and a third man, Aris­son Ji­me­nez-Robles, 26, as they al­legedly pro­cessed and re­pack­aged the drugs for re­sale in bulk quant­it­ies. The con­tra­band amoun­ted to 7.6 kilo­grams of heroin, au­thor­it­ies said.

The Var­gas broth­ers and Ji­me­nez-Robles all reside in Phil­adelphia.

The heroin was man­u­fac­tured in Mex­ico, au­thor­it­ies said.

On Oct. 17, a grand jury named the sus­pects in a four-count in­dict­ment. The charges in­clude con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute and con­spir­acy to pos­sess more than one kilo­gram of heroin, as well as at­tempt to pos­sess and at­tempt to dis­trib­ute more than one kilo­gram of heroin.

If con­victed on all charges, each de­fend­ant would face a man­dat­ory min­im­um pris­on sen­tence of 10 years and pos­sible life in pris­on, along with fines and su­per­vised re­lease. ••End­Frag­ment 

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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