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Three Heroin Dealers Arrested on Federal Drug Charges in Connection to the Overdose Death of a Farmers Branch Woman

MAR 14 (DALLAS) - A Dallas-area man has been charged by federal criminal complaint stemming from his role in selling the heroin that caused a young woman’s overdose death at a McDonald’s restaurant in Farmers Branch in June 2016.  Two other men were charged by federal criminal complaints stemming from their trafficking of illegal narcotics. The announcement was made today by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

“Tragically, heroin deaths like this are not isolated events anymore,” said U.S. Attorney Parker.  “We obviously can’t bring this life back, but we can, together with our state and local partners, bring the full weight of law enforcement to bear on finding and prosecuting those who sell this poison.  We will find you.” 

Specifically, the complaint charges Rogelio Bernal, 20, of Dallas, and Zakariah Michael Wolf, 29, of Greenville, Texas, with conspiracy to distribute heroin in November of 2016, and separately charges Bernal with conspiracy to distribute heroin in June of 2016.  Bernal and Wolf made appearances in federal court this week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver, who ordered that Bernal remain in custody pending the detention hearing set for March 20, 2017, and Wolf remain in custody pending his detention hearing set for March 22, 2017.

In a separate complaint, Steven Gomez, 18, of Dallas, Texas, was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on March 9, 2017, after having been found sharing a residence with Rogelio Bernal.  Gomez made his initial appearance in federal court on March 9, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver who ordered that he remain in custody pending trial.

According to the affidavit filed with the federal complaint for Bernal and Wolf, on November 9, 2016 investigators learned that Bernal distributed heroin in the Farmers Branch, Texas, area.  Bernal had been the source of supply of heroin in the area since at least April 2016, and supplied Nancy Pineda, who was previously charged in a separate complaint for her role in the conspiracy.  Investigators discovered Bernal had several text conversations with co-conspirators coordinating meetings to conduct illegal drug transactions.

On November 17, 2016, Farmers Branch Police Department observed Bernal arrive at a shopping center parking lot in Dallas, Texas.  Officers observed a white male get into the front passenger seat of Bernal’s vehicle.  The white male was later identified as Wolf.  Approximately five to ten minutes later, Wolf exited Bernal’s vehicle and Bernal departed the location.

In the early morning hours of November 18, 2016, a Greenville Police officer observed a green 1994 Chrysler Concord, traveling east on Templeton Street in Greenville, Texas.  The vehicle was stopped after committing multiple traffic violations, and the driver was identified as Wolf.  Wolf was eventually arrested and the Greenville Police Department located a safe in the vehicle containing digital scale, several small clear zip lock style baggies, a syringe, a spoon with possible heroin residue, Suboxone sublingual packs, a half pill of alprazolam, a plastic baggie containing suspected cocaine, a plastic baggie containing suspected methamphetamine, and a plastic baggie containing suspected heroin.  Texas Department of Public Safety Laboratory Analysis of the drugs seized from the safe revealed 11.20 gross grams of heroin and 1.77 gross grams of methamphetamine.  Two glass pipes, a wooden stick, and 50 packaged syringes were also found in the vehicle. 

According to the affidavit filed with the Gomez complaint, a federal search warrant was executed on March 9, 2017, at the residence of Bernal and Gomez.  A search of Gomez’s room revealed a number of weapons, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine. Specifically, 490 gross grams of crack cocaine, 2,036 gross grams of suspected methamphetamine, and multiple firearms were located. 

A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged, and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge.  A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.  The U.S. Attorney’s office has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment.  The penalty for the offenses charged in these criminal complaints is not more than 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.

The Farmers Branch Police Department, Greenville Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration are investigating the case.  The Grand Prairie Police Department and Dallas Police Department provided assistance for the operation on March 9, 2017.  Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Calvert and Assistant U.S. Attorney Myria Boehm are prosecuting.

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