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Top drug trafficker in Carrollton juvenile fentanyl case charged

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(The Center Square) – One of the heads of a drug trafficking scheme in north Texas has been charged in the Carrollton juvenile fentanyl case that led to 14 overdoses and four deaths.

Julio Gonzales Jr., 18, was arrested late last week on charges of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. His roommate, 19-year-old Adrian Martinez-Leon, was also arrested, charged with drug conspiracy.

Both are the ninth and tenth defendants charged for alleged crimes that led to the deaths of four middle and high school Carrollton students, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton, said.

“Another domino has fallen in the Carrollton juvenile fentanyl overdose saga,” U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton said when announcing the update on the case. “Rest assured, the Justice Department will not stop until their entire fentanyl trafficking infrastructure has been dismantled. Our kids’ futures are too important to allow this to continue.”

“These arrests demonstrate the continued resolve of DEA Dallas to investigate this organization to the fullest extent possible,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chávez said. “Local street dealers, transporters, bulk suppliers, and anyone in between should know DEA Dallas is still committed to holding everyone in this organization, and others like it, accountable for selling fentanyl to our communities.”

The news comes after Simonton’s office in March charged five adults with trafficking fentanyl after 10 Carrolton juveniles were poisoned in a trafficking scheme targeting teens. It also comes after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Dallas division seized nearly 15 million lethal doses of fentanyl and more than 7,000 pounds of methamphetamine last year, enough to kill nearly 33 million people.

Agents involved in the investigation are with the DEA Dallas Field Office, Dallas Police Department SWAT team, and Carrollton Police Department.

When searching their residence, agents found thousands of fentanyl-laced M-30 pills stuffed inside a microwave. M-30 is referred to as Mexican Oxy, the DEA has explained in public awareness campaigns. Referred to as “blues,” “perks,” “yerks,” “china girls,” or “TNT,” they’re blue pills with an “M” on one side. They are made to look like real prescription pills but are instead laced with fentanyl. Two milligrams of fentanyl is considered a lethal dose.

Investigators also found a partial kilogram of cocaine hidden in a plastic food storage container in their residences as well as bulk U.S. currency and numerous firearms, including a pistol equipped with an illegal Glock switch.

According to the complaint, a 16-year-old dealer identified Gonzalez as “J-Money” and the “plug,” street lingo for supply. The dealer delivered fentanyl laced pills to a 14-year-old girl who died in December 2022.

Another four cooperating defendants also allegedly identified “J-Money” as their supply source and linked him to an address in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. The complaint cites Instagram messages sent between Gonzales and defendants negotiating pill prices and quantities and agents surveilling Gonzales and Martinez-Leon separately engaging in alleged hand-to-hand drug transactions.

If convicted, they each face up to 40 years in federal prison.

A recent DEA public safety alert warned that six out of 10 fake pills DEA tests in its labs are laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl. It has also published an Emoji Drug Code to educate parents about how dealers are selling illicit drugs by targeting minors using social media apps.

Children under age 14 are dying from fentanyl poisoning at a faster rate than any other age group in the U.S., according to a Families Against Fentanyl analysis.

Americans are encouraged to have Naloxone on hand, a drug that’s proven to reverse opioid overdoses and fentanyl poisoning if administered quickly enough. It’s available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It’s accessible for free and low cost online, through a range of community organizations, and through pharmacies with and without a prescription and with or without insurance. It’s also expected to be available over the counter in the coming months.

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