Dirty Girl” Is Part of Nationwide
JUN 11 -- (CHARLOTTE, NC) – Today Attorney General Eric Holder announced “Project Deliverance,” a lengthy, international, and multi-faceted law enforcement investigation focused on the transportation infrastructure of Mexican drug trafficking organizations in the United States. U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina, along with Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced in conjunction with the Attorney General, Western District of North Carolina criminal cases and recent arrests that are part of the national “Project Deliverance” operation. The local portion of “Project Deliverance,” representing the work of the Western District of North Carolina’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), is a group of local federal prosecutions code-named “Operation Dirty Girl,” because the term “Dirty Girl” is a nickname for black-tar heroin, a potent form of heroin. A drug trafficking organization leader, indicted in Charlotte in 2009, has been arrested in Mexico as part of “Project Deliverance/Operation Dirty Girl,” and an additional seven individuals were arrested in Charlotte on Friday, June 4, 2010, also in connection with the far-ranging sweep.
To date, “Operation Dirty Girl” in the Western District of North Carolina has produced 50 arrests (both state and federal), the seizure of 19 pounds of heroin (which amounts to approximately 120,000 dosage units with an approximate street value of $1.2 million), $245,000 in U.S. currency, and three firearms. Of the 45 federal defendants arrested to date, 37 have been convicted by plea of guilty. Eight of the 37 convicted have been sentenced and the rest await sentencing. Eight currently are pending trial.
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division, stated, “This criminal enterprise was clearly working under the direction of Mexican drug trafficking organization leadership. The substances that they distributed destroy lives. This ongoing investigation has been a success because of spirited law enforcement cooperation. DEA and our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts are committed to making our communities safer by removing such drug traffickers from the streets.”
“There is no question that the reach of sophisticated Mexican drug trafficking organizations extends right into our community. Operation Dirty Girl launched a full attack on the heroin trade in Charlotte. We are committed to fighting drug trafficking organizations wherever they exist, and will continue to work to stem the flow of illegal drugs into our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina.
Mexican authorities arrested Carlos Ramon Castro-Rocha, 36, of Sinaloa, Mexico, on May 30, 2010 on a provisional arrest warrant issued out of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina at Charlotte, NC. Castro-Rocha was indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte on June 16, 2009 on four criminal counts alleging heroin trafficking in Mecklenburg County on dates from in or about 2005 and continuing through September 2007. The indictment remained under seal until June 4, 2010. Castro-Rocha has been designated as a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) by the OCDETF. A “CPOT” designation is reserved for significant narcotics traffickers who are believed to be the leaders of drug trafficking organizations responsible for the importation of large quantities of narcotics into the U.S. Castro-Rocha also faces indictment in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on heroin distribution-related charges. At present, Castro-Rocha remains in custody in Mexico, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina is in the process of seeking his extradition to the United States.
The designation of Castro-Rocha as a “CPOT” for law enforcement purposes, came as part of the Western District’s continuing OCDETF investigation known as “Dirty Girl.” The Western District’s “Operation Dirty Girl” is an ongoing investigation into black-tar heroin trafficking, and agents and officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have led and been instrumental in the work so far, with substantial assistance from the Gastonia, NC Police Department and the Union County, NC Sheriff’s Office.
In addition to the May 30, 2010 arrest of Castro-Rocha in Mexico, DEA local agents and task force officers arrested seven individuals in Charlotte on Friday, June 4, 2010 as part of “Operation Dirty Girl.” The seven defendants are alleged to have conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute black-tar heroin in the Western District of North Carolina from 2008 to June 2010. Seized at the time of the arrests in Charlotte on June 4, 2010 were approximately six pounds and 12 ounces of black-tar heroin–which amounts to approximately 42,000 doses with an approximate street value of $420,000–as well as two firearms and $32,320.00 In U.S. currency. The seven individuals, Rosario Karina Delgadillo, Roberto Aguayo-Camarena, Regino Salas-Cruz, Irvin Torres-Gonzalez, Jose Cabriel Gutierrez-Toledo, Angel Fernandez, and Cesar Fernandez, all of whom were living in Charlotte, have been charged in the Western District of North Carolina by federal criminal complaint. The defendants have made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Charlotte and an immigration detainer has been lodged against each of the defendants.
The prosecutions are being handled for the government by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte. If convicted, Castro-Rocha faces a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. As presently charged, the seven individuals arrested for heroin distribution conspiracy in Charlotte on June 4, if convicted, each face a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. An indictment or a criminal complaint is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
DEA Atlanta’s SAC Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.