Jacqueline DeAvila Montoya, 23 and Selene Yanira Castillo-Meraz, 19, pleaded guilty to federal charges of distribution of heroin and conspiracy to distribute heroin. D. Michael Dunavant, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the guilty pleas today.
According to the information presented, on October 4, 2017, Montoya and Castillo-Meraz were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and distribution of heroin in a 4-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in Memphis.
United States Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: "Our nation and our district are suffering from the heroin and opioid epidemic, causing increases in drug trafficking, violence, addiction, and overdose deaths that are tearing our communities apart. This office will use every available resource to prioritize cases involving the distribution of heroin, and to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations that deliver this deadly poison to citizens in the Western District of Tennessee".
On September 7, 2017, the two women were stopped for speeding on Interstate 40 in Memphis. A subsequent search of their vehicle revealed over 18 pounds of heroin and other illegal narcotics. The defendants were bringing the drugs from California through Tennessee on their way to a delivery in New York City. David Silva Garcia has been identified as another co-conspirator from California, and is currently under indictment in Memphis for his role in the drug trafficking organization.
At the plea hearing, the two women pleaded guilty to Counts 1 and 3 of the indictment for trafficking heroin. They each face a mandatory minimum of 10 years imprisonment.
This case was investigated by the West Tennessee Drug Task Force, an arm of the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office; and the Drug Enforcement Administration in Memphis along with their DEA partners in Riverside, California, New York City and Mexico City.