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