Atlantic City acted as a stop in a cross-country drug investigation that resulted in the arrests of two California men, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced Thursday.
Isabel Otanez-Sanchez, 25, and Jesus Zavala-Torres, 33, both of San Jacinto, California, are accused of shipping more than 30 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and conspiring to send an additional 5 kilos of fentanyl to New Jersey, Carpenito said in a news release.
Each man is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and 400 grams or more of fentanyl.
In September, law-enforcement officers received information that an individual known as “Pancho,” later identified as Sanchez, was shipping large quantities of narcotics from California to New Jersey. On Jan. 28, Sanchez agreed to send 30 pounds of methamphetamine to a law-enforcement confidential source in Atlantic City. Torres and Sanchez hid 28 packages of methamphetamine inside a salvaged vehicle that was shipped to New Jersey from California via a car carrier service. Agents recovered the methamphetamine from the car’s gas tank, Carpenito said.
On Tuesday, the confidential source met with Sanchez and Torres in Riverside, California, to pay for the methamphetamine. At this meeting, Sanchez and Torres also agreed to sell an additional 5 kilos of fentanyl to the source, which would be shipped to New Jersey in the same manner as the methamphetamine. After agreeing to the sale of the fentanyl, Torres left the meeting to retrieve 2 kilos of fentanyl to show to the source prior to shipment. As Torres was driving back to the meeting, he was stopped by local law-enforcement officers and the fentanyl was recovered from his vehicle, Carpenito said.
Both defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
The Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Cherry Hill office, assisted in the investigation, as did HSI in Riverside; New Jersey State Police; the Hemet, California, Police Department; and the Atlantic City Task Force.