Two illegal aliens were among four individuals who are facing federal drug distribution charges following drug overdoses last March in Columbia, Tennessee, said U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee. On Wednesday, a federal grand jury returned a nine-count indictment against: Juan Manuel Morales-Rodriguez (aka “Jimmy,” aka “Antonio Sanchez-Mundo”), 39, of Tepic, Mexico; Juan Samudio-Castro (aka “Carlos”) 26, of Michoacan, Mexico; Austin Chase Sneed, 23, and Jacob Allen Beaver, 22, both of Columbia, Tennessee.
According to a release from the Department of Justice, Rodriguez, Castro and Sneed were originally charged with a heroin distribution conspiracy in a criminal complaint on March 27, 2018. All of the accused are in custody.
“As long as it takes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and local, state and federal law enforcement will continue our pursuit against those who insist on contributing to the opioid epidemic facing this nation by supplying their deadly fentanyl-laced drugs and exploiting a vulnerable and addicted population, said U.S. Attorney Cochran. “This is yet another tragic example of the consequences of a long un-checked immigration system and the ease in which these illegal drugs enter our country.”
The indictment charges all four with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin, the use of which resulted in death and serious bodily injury to users. Morales-Rodriguez and Samudio-Castro are charged with an additional six counts of distributing heroin/fentanyl. Sneed is charged with two additional counts of distributing heroin/fentanyl and Beaver is charged with one additional count of distributing heroin/fentanyl. Morales-Rodriguez, who is illegally in the United States, is charged with aggravated illegal reentry.
According to the indictment, on March 21, 2018, at least two individuals in Maury County, Tennessee died as a result of overdosing on heroin and/or fentanyl. The later is a powerful synthetic opioid commonly prescribed for pain management and relief.
Prosecutors allege that the defendants were involved in a conspiracy where individuals would call a telephone number and place an order for illicit drugs, in this case heroin. The drugs were later delivered to the customer by a third-party courier who works for the same drug organization. After a customer called and placed an order for heroin, the person answering the phone instructed the customer to meet a drug courier inside various public restrooms in the Franklin, Cool Springs, and Brentwood areas near Interstate 65 in Williamson County, Tennessee. Charging documents allege that the drug transactions occurred in the public restrooms of retail establishments in that area..
If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison or even a life sentence. In addition, they face a $5,000,000 fine.