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British Columbia

Mexican national gets 9 years for supplying heroin, fentanyl to Richmond drug dealers

A Mexican national who ran a drug trafficking operation from his apartment in downtown Richmond was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison for supplying heroin and fentanyl to several area drug dealers.

Federal prosecutors identified Leopoldo Allan Islas-Gonzalez, 39, as a “trusted source of large amounts of [heroin and fentanyl] to several drug dealers in this area.”

Islas-Gonzalez became the focus of investigators after Henrico County authorities issued a search warrant at a West Broad Street business and found items consistent with the distribution of heroin and fentanyl.

The business owner agreed to serve as a confidential source and eventually assisted the US Drug Enforcement Agency in identifying his supplier and made two controlled purchases of heroin and fentanyl that were shipped from California to Richmond.

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This led to the arrest of Islas-Gonzalez.

“It is evident that he played a critical role in a well-functioning conspiracy to bring fentanyl to communities in the Eastern District of Virginia despite the inevitable dangers,” Assistant US Attorney Stephen Anthony said in court filings.

The drug quantity attributed to Islas-Gonzalez includes 1,005.9 grams of heroin, 4,997.73 grams of fentanyl and 3,664.75 grams of a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, according to the US Attorney’s Office finding. That’s more than 9.5 kilos of narcotics.

US District Court in downtown Richmond

Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr., Federal Court at 701 East Broad Street.

Richmond Times Dispatch

When Henrico police executed a search warrant at an auto detailing shop on Block 9000 of West Broad Street in January 2022, they found fentanyl, cutting fluid, a pill press, a digital scale and packaging materials. These discoveries prompted officials to identify two other locations linked to the company – one in according to a federal affidavit, the 200 block of Rocketts Way in Richmond and one at the 4400 block of Heidi Court in Midlothian.

On January 25, 2022, members of the DEA Richmond office executed search warrants at both locations and seized 7.5 kilograms of fentanyl/heroin, equipment selling the drugs and a cash desk at the Rocketts Way location, and $35,000 in cash from the home at the Heidi farm.

The business owner was arrested and stated that the source of the fentanyl and heroin was a Hispanic man from California. He gave cell phone numbers for his drug source. During a search of his phone, agents reviewed numerous WhatsApp messages between the business owner and the drug supplier.

A photo of the supplier was also found, according to the affidavit.

In February 2022, under the direction of DEA agents, the business owner-turned-source-confidential sent multiple recorded WhatsApp messages to his supplier. During the recorded conversations, the supplier agreed to ship heroin and fentanyl through United Parcel Service and two separate UPS tracking numbers were provided.

US Senior District Judge Henry Hudson

US Senior District Judge Henry E. Hudson

Richmond Times Dispatch

In February, authorities seized the first packet of fentanyl, and days later a second packet containing heroin, according to the affidavit.

DEA agents then placed Islas-Gonzalez in California under surveillance. He was arrested at a traffic stop in Pasadena on March 16, 2022. He produced a Mexican ID card that identifies him as Juan Manuel Valenzuela Paez, but after his arrest he admitted that his real name was Leopoldo Islas-Gonzalez.

Judge Henry E. Hudson sentenced Islas-Gonzalez to 108 months in prison in the US District Court in Richmond on Tuesday. The sentence was at the high end of discretionary federal sentencing guidelines, which were calculated for the defendant to be between 87 and 108 months.

Assistant federal defense attorney Laura Koening said in court documents Islas-Gonzalez worked to support his family up until the COVID-19 pandemic, but when his income disappeared he was recruited by an acquaintance who was involved in the drug trade.

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