KOMMONSENTSJANE – FEDS TAKE DOWN OPIOD RING AND SHUT DOWN ITS PILL LAB IN SAN ANTONIO, TX

Again I am sharing this with you because I doubt you read this Opioid Ring story in your local paper and I felt it was shocking enough for us all to know about.  More evidence that we do not want these Middle Eastern invaders in our country—it’s like Khrushchev said many years ago, “we will destroy you from within”—it is more than their being terrorists attacking us but they are now trying to poison our people from within—gullible young and older people.  This is pure evil.

Those of you who do not live in Texas, don’t be naïve and think this is ‘only’ happening here in Texas—these evildoers are all over this nation preying on people—BE AWARE!

FEDS TAKE DOWN OPIOD RING AND SHUT DOWN ITS PILL LAB:

The San Antonio Express-News’

Guillermo Contreras

— Federal investigators have shut down a ring that reportedly put hundreds of thousands of potentially deadly, fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl on the streets of San Antonio and across the country.

The two-year investigation began on the campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio and on the city’s streets and stretched to back alleys of the Internet.

Authorities have charged and arrested eight men, among them two Iraqi immigrants who served as interpreters for U.S. military forces, court testimony shows.

Officials also shut down a lab that the ring reportedly moved from San Antonio to suburban Houston during the investigation.

The ring allegedly was led by one of the ex-interpreters,
Alaa Mohammed Allawi
, 28, and helped largely by a partner,
Benjamin Ita Uno
, 25.

It is alleged to have manufactured pain and anxiety pills laced with fentanyl or other drugs using commercial pill presses obtained from China, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said. The ring was believed to have obtained the fentanyl from the black market in China.

The group then used the dark web — where visitors can buy anything from illegal drugs and black-market guns to fake IDs — to sell the drugs, officials said.

Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication with a rapid onset and short duration. It’s 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, according to DEA agents and federal prosecutors.

(The scary part is even if you just handle the product it can cause an overdose.)

It sometimes is mixed with heroin or other drugs and can be deadly. Tiny specks of the powder have overdosed police officers around the country who unknowingly handled the substance at crime scenes.

Agents believe several people may have died from using the fentanyl-laced pills, including some in San Antonio.

One was a 22-year-old man from Pipe Creek. He was targeted in a drive-by shooting, allegedly by members of the ring, in Bandera County earlier this year for nonpayment. He later overdosed in Bexar County, according to court indicated.

Abigail Garza Moore
, CEO of the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, said Bexar County is seeing an increase in overdoses related to opioids like fentanyl, based on the use by rescue personnel of naloxene, which helps save lives because it reverses the effects of opioids.

“We know our first responders are using it about three to five times a week,” she said. “Those are just the cases that are reported. You can imagine how many don’t have treatment.”

The White House shone a light on the national opioid issue recently.

“It’s a national emergency,” President
Donald Trump
said Thursday. “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”

The pills first were encountered by UTSA and San Antonio police in 2015, who began seeing them around the campus and on the city’s streets, DEA agent
Leon Pauley
testified.

The DEA used court-approved wiretaps to listen to members of the ring discuss the illicit enterprise, including when the ring uprooted its lab earlier this year from a home Allawi owns in the 13000 block of Regency Bend on the Northwest Side to a house he rented in Richmond, near Houston.

Agents also used undercover profiles on the dark web to buy pills laced with methamphetamine from Allawi’s group, but because of a DEA safety protocol, agents could not order pills laced with fentanyl, the agent testified.

“I’ve never seen a case like this,” Assistant U.S. Attorney
Joey Contreras
, who oversaw drug prosecutions for several years, told a judge at Uno’s bond hearing. “The quantities they’re able to distribute, and in anonymity, are staggering.”

The ring, according to Contreras and the main prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney
Sarah Wannarka
, mailed hundreds of packages containing fentanyl-laced pills that could have had deadly consequences for postal workers or others.

“This case involves a ticking time bomb,” Contreras added. “Several people have already died. This is just an unacceptable risk.”

DEA agents moved in on the Richmond lab in mid-May, agent Pauly testified. The daylong raid at the home in a gated community there drew lengthy coverage from Houston’s television media.

In the raid, agents seized half a kilogram of powdered fentanyl, 10 kilos of oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl, half a kilo of crystal methamphetamine, 5 kilos of adderall pills laced with meth, 6 kilos of Xanax pills laced with meth, four commercial pill press machines used to manufacture the fraudulent prescription pills, three handguns and a semiautomatic rifle.

They also seized 120 packages of delivery-ready pills that agents heard Allawi and Uno discussing — on an intercepted wiretap — the night before the raid, Pauly said.

With the help of the U.S. Postal Service, at least 70 packages have been intercepted, but hundreds of thousands of orders already had been filled before the ring was shut down.

“There were thousands of (buyer) reviews on the dark web,” of the ring’s sales, Pauly testified. “There were over 300 screenshots we collected with multiple reviews on each page.”

In a separate raid at an apartment Uno rented on Hamilton Wolfe, agents found drug paraphernalia, traces of cocaine in a blender and an AK-47-style rifle with a 30-round magazine and a separate drum magazine in a closet, the agent testified.

A federal grand jury earlier this summer indicted Allawi, Uno and six other defendants, including another former Defense Department interpreter,
Mohamed M Al Salihi
, 33, also known as “Blake” on conspiracy to distribute drugs. Allawi also faces a gun charge.

Seven of those charged have been ordered detained.

At Allawi’s bond hearing, prosecutor Wannarka told a judge that Allawi “came to this country having been given an amazing opportunity, an opportunity that millions of people wish they had.

“Instead of being a productive member of this community, he participated in what is one of our nation’s most serious public health crises right now,” Wannarka said.

Uno has no prior criminal record, according to court testimony. While seeking bond for him, Uno’s lawyer
Deric King Walpole
asked that Uno be released to a girlfriend,
Denise Cantu
of Harlingen, whom Uno has been seeing for about three years.

But Walpole changed course after learning Cantu is a witness in a federal case against state Sen.
Carlos Uresti
, who is accused of defrauding her into investing, and losing, hundreds of thousands of dollars in a sand-fracking company in which Uresti had an interest.

 

Walpole said Cantu had no idea of Uno’s alleged pill venture. Walpole later asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad to release Uno to the custody of his mother.

But prosecutor Contreras pressed Bemporad to detain Uno, saying he wasn’t just an idle accomplice. He was right on the front lines, making the pills and distributing them, Contreras argued.

Bemporad sided with Walpole and pretrial services officers, who recommended bail. The judge set $75,000 unsecured bond and ordered Uno to be barred from having Internet access.

But the judge put his bond order on hold, keeping Uno in custody, because prosecutors have appealed.

kommonsentsjane

About kommonsentsjane

Enjoys sports and all kinds of music, especially dance music. Playing the keyboard and piano are favorites. Family and friends are very important.
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