'Operation: Papa Juan's' leads to 5 indictments in connection with Tulsa heroin ring
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) —
A grand jury has indicted five people charged in connection with a large-scale heroin operation in Tulsa.
The Department of Justice says 27-year-old Martin Estaban-Flores, 27-year-old Wilber Ramirez, 25-year-old Antonio Mauro Inda-Ibarra, 40-year-old Richardo Desantiago Garcia and 22-year-old Angel Verdin Martinez have all been charged with eight counts. They are all accused of running a heroin distribution network in Tulsa that operated similarly to a typical pizza delivery service.
The FBI has been conducting a long-term investigation on the heroin ring, dubbed "Operation: Papa Juan's." The Tulsa and Broken Arrow Police Departments helped in the investigation.
The federal indictment accuses Flores of acting as a dispatcher who took calls from customers wanting to place orders for heroin. Flores would then direct customers to specific locations to meet delivery drivers, according to the DOJ.
The delivery drivers would deliver the heroin to customers in balloons, the DOJ says. Each balloon would reportedly contain one gram of heroin and cost $100. The indictment says these transactions usually took about 30 minutes.
Two of the suspects acting as delivery drivers sold heroin to an undercover officer, according to the DOJ.
On. Oct. 16, FBI special agents executed a search warrant on a room at the Quality Inn motel near 41st Street and Highway 169 in Tulsa. Agents watched Flores and Ramirez enter the room and used a wiretapped phone to hear what sounded like the packaging of heroin, according to the DOJ.
In the room, law enforcement agents found about four kilograms of heroin (about 16,000 doses with a street value of $400,000 to $500,000), more than $1,200 in cash, eight cell phones, and drug paraphernalia and processing equipment, according to the DOJ.
"Heroin and illegal opiate drugs are poisoning our local communities," U.S. Attorney R. Trent Shores said in a press release. "The United States Attorney's Office stands ready to work with federal, state, local, and tribal partners to aggressively prosecute those who would seek to profit from the trafficking of heroin."
The five defendants were charged with heroin conspiracy, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, distribution of heroin and other counts.