Arlene Viridiana Moya, 23, and Trisha Lynne Ibarra, 23, were driving a Ford SUV down I-20 in Rankin County, Mississippi after 9 PM on Jan 19 when they were pulled over for a traffic violation. The women behaved suspiciously during the stop, and the deputies suspected they were running drugs. Eventually the police removed the gas tank from the vehicle and found 51 pounds of heroin. It is worth at least $10 million on the street.
Ibarra’s 3-month-old child was in the backseat of the car, and has been placed with Child Protective Services. The sheriff told the media he could not believe a mother would transport drugs with their infant in the car. But, he noted, drug cartels are heartless and ruthless and will do whatever it takes to sell their deadly product.
The women are being held without bond at the jail in Rankin County. If they are convicted for trafficking that amount of heroin, each could receive life in prison. The heroin they carried was of the white variety which is made only in Mexico.
The sheriff’s office stated it was the largest drug bust they have ever seen and is probably one of the biggest ever in Mississippi. The sheriff added that he was proud of his officers because they probably were able to save hundreds of lives by getting that amount of heroin off the street.
Other Huge Heroin Busts Make National News
The huge heroin bust in Mississippi was not the only major drug bust this month. In the Bronx, police tailing two suspects found another $10 million of heroin in a duffle bag. The two men – Andy Moscat, 28, and Francisco Ramirez, 41, were arrested in one of the biggest heroin busts ever in New York state.
The police stated that big drug seizures such as the one in the Bronx are becoming more common. Years ago, recovering just one kilogram of heroin would have been considered a big arrest.
The two men arrested in this drug bust were just after another major drug bust where federal agents broke up a heroin trafficking operation in the Theater District in Manhattan. More than $6 million of heroin was seized in that bust.
Experts say drug traffickers are shifting from moving cocaine to heroin because it weighs less and has a higher return on investment. Another major factor is demand for the product. The higher level of abuse of prescription drugs – many of which are opiates – has many people trying to buy heroin as a more cost effective option.
In the Bronx arrest, the two suspects were arrested last weekend after an undercover operation that had lasted several weeks. Police watched Moscat get out of a car that was driven by Ramirez, go to an apartment and return with a large black duffle bag that he put into another vehicle that was parked on the street.
Police moved in and found 40 pounds of heroin in bricks in the duffle bag. They also seized drug paraphernalia and a 9mm handgun. Also, they found $40,000 in cash and jewelry in the Yonkers apartment belonging to Moscat.
Meanwhile, in Baltimore, police arrested a man last week who is suspected of trafficking in heroin, and they also seized $405,000 in cash. Police say they linked the man – Karon Peoples, 23 – to several overdoses in Harford and surrounding counties in the Baltimore area.
The captain of the police department said that his officers will be regularly conducting surveillance and covert operations and will find people in the area who are trafficking in heroin and other illegal drugs. Police added that 70 grams of heroin was found in the man’s car, and 900 grams of the drug and the $405,000 in cash was found in two purses that were in his houses.
Local investigators stated Peoples operated his drug trafficking operation from two places – an expensive high rise in West Lexington and a townhouse on Frankford Ave. Due to confidential sources and police surveillance, investigators were able to obtain probable cause to get a search warrant to search the man’s residences and vehicle.
Police added that seizing almost two pounds of heroin with a street value of $110,000 and the $405,000 in cash will disrupt local drug trafficking operations and will probably save several lives. Investigators added they had recovered two watches worth nearly $100,000 total and other evidence that proves the man is trafficking in heroin.
Peoples was indicted by the federal government on Jan. 4 with the federal charge of drug possession with intent to distribute heroin. He faces a prison sentence of life if he is convicted. Court records stated the indictment was sealed but was ordered to be unsealed Jan. 9. He has been held without bail since he was arrested.
Harford County investigators stated that many of the local sources of heroin and fentanyl are in the Baltimore City area. There is a vast supply, police said, of illegal narcotics in Maryland, Baltimore metro, northern Virginia, northeast West Virginia and even in western Maryland. Many drug dealers would prefer to stay in the city instead of dealing drugs in Harford County. The police in that county has developed a strong reputation among drug dealers as being very aggressive on drug traffickers.
Police in Harford County said their goal is to target the higher level dealers and get to the major sources of supply, such as Peoples. When you are able to arrest the higher level suppliers and dealers, it is easier to dismantle the entire drug operation.
One of the ways the police determine who and where to target is by consulting the state’s heroin overdose database. Using information culled from that data, it is possible to put together a target list of people to observe for potential drug trafficking.