Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Local drug trafficking ring leaders convicted in federal court

Several individuals involved in a drug trafficking ring that was dismantled last year by local authorities have been found guilty on multiple drug charges in federal court.
The arrest of a Jonesborough man in December 2007 by officers of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office started the investigation into what turned out to be one of the largest drug conspiracies in Northeast Tennessee.
The culmination of a yearlong investigation came in February 2009, when authorities from several local, state and federal agencies announced the arrest of 33 individuals on 22 separate counts including conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana, a conspiracy to manufacture more than 1,000 marijuana plants and possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.
According to United States Attorney Russ Dedrick, the drug ring was working to “import, cultivate and distribute marijuana literally throughout the U.S., with its hub in Washington County.”
Following a recent four-week trial in United States District Court in Greeneville, a jury convicted five of the individuals indicted and returned a monetary judgment against two of the men for $6 million — the estimated proceeds of the marijuana trafficking.
A jury convicted Jesus Huerta and Wiley Barnett, both of Johnson City, of conspiring to manufacture 1,000 or more marijuana plants. The jury also convicted the men on charges of conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.
The jury convicted Carlos Hernandez, of Johnson City, of conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute at least 100 kilograms but less than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.
The jury convicted Javier Flores-Delacruz, of Texas, of conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.
The jury convicted Justin Blake Saldivar, of Texas, of conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute at least 100 kilograms but less than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.
The jury also returned a verdict against Huerta and Flores-Delacruz for a money judgment of $6 million.
Sentencing is set for Aug. 9 in United States District Court in Greeneville.
The leader of the whole drug trafficking ring was Raymundo Miller-Guerra of Houston, Texas, who was indicted, but was a fugitive when he was found murdered in Houston on Dec. 8, 2009.
Based on the investigation, the conspirators trafficked in over 13,000 kilograms of marijuana between Texas and Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, Illinois and North Carolina.
The trial was the culmination of a two-year investigation, which also resulted in 20 of the co-conspirators pleading guilty to trafficking in marijuana and firearms charges.
In addition to the 20 pleas, the investigation also led to the pleas of two former Washington County Sheriff’s deputies. Jeffery Bailey pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. Jimmy Fox pled to possession of a firearm by a drug user. Fox appealed his sentence, however, his appeal was denied.