Final Defendant in Nine-Person Transnational Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Sentenced | USAO-WDMI

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that Jesus Cortez (40) of Lansing, Michigan was sentenced by United States District Judge Paul L. Maloney to 137 months imprisonment for his role in a nine-person drug trafficking conspiracy.  The drug trafficking conspiracy involved current and former inmates of the Michigan Department of Corrections procuring methamphetamine and heroin from Mexico and distributing the drugs in West Michigan and elsewhere.  The conspiracy spanned eleven counties in Michigan, including Alger, Luce, Allegan, Berrien, Branch, Grand Traverse, Ingham, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, and Van Buren Counties.  The conspiracy also involved the distribution of buprenorphine (Suboxone) and methamphetamine inside correctional facilities.

          Eight of the nine defendants charged in the superseding indictment were convicted following guilty pleas.  One defendant, Arnulfo Trevino, died of natural causes after his guilty plea but before sentencing.  The defendants’ sentences  are listed below:

Name Age Residence Sentence
Luis Alberto Cruz 31 Detroit, Michigan 240 months
Carlos Martinez a/k/a “Los” 41 Norton Shores, Michigan 240 months
Umberto Gavier Cruz a/k/a “Diablo” 67 Covert, Michigan 66 months
Emmanuel Alfonso Ventura a/k/a “E” 29 Grand Rapids, Michigan 72 months
Rocky Joseph Krupa a/k/a “Rock” 47 Traverse City, Michigan 90 months
Jesus Cortez 40 Lansing, Michigan 137 months
Sarah Joy mcBride 32 Allegan, Michigan 37 months
Cecil William Wallis 34 Twin Lake, Michigan 24 months

          Two of the eight defendants convicted, Luis Cruz and Emmanuel Ventura, were serving sentences in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) throughout the conspiracy.  Another three defendants – Carlos Martinez, Rocky Krupa, and Jesus Cortez –joined the conspiracy almost immediately upon release from prison.  Further details of the investigation are available in the criminal complaints filed in United States v. Luis Alberto Cruz, No. 1:20-mj-00145 and United States v. Carlos Martinez, No. 1:20-mj-179.

          In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Birge stated, “The most troubling aspect of this conspiracy was the defendants’ use of the Michigan Department of Corrections as a recruiting center and distribution hub for a transnational drug conspiracy with ties to traffickers in Mexico.  Through a strong partnership with our state and local law enforcement teams, my office will continue to prosecute those who jeopardize the security of Michigan’s correctional facilities by using them in their criminal enterprises.  Those who choose to sell drugs during and after their release from prison will face harsh federal sentences, as is reflected in the judgments of the District Court.”

          “Severing this connection to dangerous drug cartels is a big win for law abiding citizens across the state of Michigan,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin.  “Investigations like this where drug dealers are arrested, convicted and sentenced to a lengthy federal prison sentence are only possible through collaboration with our law enforcement partners.”

          “We are grateful for the partnership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and for the national, state, and local law enforcement professionals who all worked together to help stop the trafficking of drugs both in our correctional facilities and our communities.” said MDOC Director Heidi Washington. “We would also like to recognize the incredible work of our own Emergency Management analysts, who worked tirelessly to gather evidence and provide translations that directly led to many of these indictments.”

          The investigation and prosecution were part of an Organized Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation called Operation Prison Break. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

          The Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Michigan Department of Corrections, the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office, and the Michigan State Police and its sponsored drug trafficking task forces, including the West Michigan Enforcement Team, the Southwest Enforcement Team, and the Traverse Narcotics Team investigated the case.  Assistant United States Attorneys Vito S. Solitro and Stephanie M. Carowan prosecuted the case. 

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