Thousands of Fentanyl Pills in Microwave Lead to 2 Arrests in Carrollton Case

Thousands of fentanyl-laced pills packed in a microwave. A food storage container filled with cocaine. These are some of the illicit items that authorities say were uncovered in the home of an alleged top supplier in the Carrollton juvenile fentanyl case.

Julio Gonzales Jr., 18, and his 19-year-old roommate, Adrian Martinez-Leon, were both arrested Thursday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas. The following day, the two made initial appearances before a federal magistrate judge.

“Another domino has fallen in the Carrollton juvenile fentanyl overdose saga,” U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton said in a news release. “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.”

Other nefarious accoutrements were uncovered in DEA agents’ search of the home, according to federal officials. “[B]ulk U.S. currency” was tucked away in a closet and firearms were scattered throughout the residence.

Gonzales has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and Martinez-Leon with drug conspiracy, according to the Justice Department.

Officials have described Gonzales as one of the primary sources of supply in a rash of recent fentanyl poisonings and deaths in Carrollton. At least 14 juvenile overdoses have been tied to this case, four of which were deadly.

“Another domino has fallen in the Carrollton juvenile fentanyl overdose saga.” – U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton

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Gonzales was allegedly identified as a “plug” — or supplier — in a text conversation between a 16-year-old dealer and 21-year-old Luis Eduardo Navarrete, who was among the first alleged dealers to face charges in this case. Law enforcement believes the 16-year-old had delivered the pills that claimed the life of a 14-year-old girl late last year.

Nicknamed “J-Money,” Gonzales was identified by several defendants as a supplier, and they linked him to an Oak Cliff address.

Gonzales and Martinez-Leon are the ninth and 10th defendants charged in the string of Carrollton fentanyl overdoses. They could spend up to 40 years behind bars if convicted.

For months, federal authorities have released a steady stream of updates regarding fentanyl poisonings in North Texas. In June, Jason Xavier Villanueva, the 22-year-old man dubbed the “main source of supply” in the Carrollton overdoses, pleaded guilty to multiple crimes.

Authorities in February announced Villanueva’s arrest following the deaths of three Carrollton juveniles and overdoses of several more. Victims ranged in age from 13 to 17.

Two other defendants, Navarrete and 29-year-old Magaly Mejia Cano, were also arrested in February in connection to the case. Authorities said at the time that Villaneueva would use a juvenile dealer to supply pills to the pair.

Villanueva allegedly posted a prescient message to social media in the wake of Cano’s and Navarrete’s arrests: “Only thing that’s gonna stop us is feds.”

Simonton has had a busy year. In January, she announced several fentanyl-related arrests throughout the region. One man, 22-year-old Richard Daniel Gomez, was apprehended after allegedly conducting a deal with an undercover agent on Dallas’ Turtle Creek Boulevard.

Two other men that same month — Christopher Antwuan George, 21, and Leeroy Marquee Jones, 32 — were busted over a Fort Worth operation that dealt fentanyl, heroin, marijuana, cocaine and meth.

Yet another alleged Carrollton dealer, 20-year-old Donovan Jude Andrews, was federally charged earlier this year after trying to capitalize “on the arrest of two prominent fentanyl traffickers to entice young buyers.” And a Flower Mound man was arrested in March in connection to the Carrollton fentanyl crisis.

A growing number of young North Texans are falling victim to fentanyl.

In April, a 13-year-old Carrollton student was discovered unconscious at their middle school before getting revived with Narcan, a nasal spray used to treat opioid overdoses. The previous month, another student at Carrollton’s R.L. Turner High School had to be revived with Narcan.

The principal of R.L. Turner High School told parents in early March that an employee had been placed on leave after giving a student prescription medication without authorization.

Fentanyl is also claiming the lives of teenagers in neighboring North Texas towns. Sienna Vaughn, a 16-year-old high-school student from Plano, suffered a fatal fentanyl poisoning after taking what she believed to be a prescription Percocet pill.

A growing movement of fentanyl awareness advocates has been pushing for changes to Texas law. Although bills to make fentanyl test strips legal failed to pass during the latest session, other measures might prove to be helpful. Stefanie Turner, founder of Texas Against Fentanyl, previously told the Observer that it felt “surreal” to see a bill named after her late son, Tucker Roe, signed into law.

Tucker’s Law requires schools to provide instruction about fentanyl abuse prevention and poisoning awareness for students in grades 6–12.

“Out of all of the bills that [Gov. Greg Abbott] signed, I feel the awareness part of it will have the biggest impact to stop the trajectory,” Turner told the Observer last month. “If we cannot get to the education level, then we’re always just chasing the repercussions. So I feel like this gets to the root of it, and gets the awareness before it results in addiction or death.”


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