On Friday, May 12, the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Texas announced it charged two individuals in connection with a fentanyl drug conspiracy that resulted in the deaths of three teenagers.
Roberta Alexander Gaitan, 20, and Rafael Soliz, Jr., 22, were charged in a superseding indictment filed in March with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Gaitan is also charged with distributing a controlled substance to a person under the age of 21. The charges were unsealed following their arrests on Tuesday and were ordered to be detained pending trial.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office’s official statement, Gaitan and Soliz are accused of working with Jason Xavier Villanueva, Donovan Jude Andrews, Stephan Paul Brinson, Magaly Mejia Cano and Luis Eduardo Navarrete to traffic counterfeit opioid pills laced with fentanyl to young teens through juvenile dealers.
As previously reported by Local Profile, the conspiracy has been linked to 12 juvenile fentanyl overdoses, with three of the victims (13 to 17 years old) dying as a result, in the Carrollton and Flower Mound areas. The deadly drugs were advertised using social media.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison. They were ordered detained pending trial after making their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Toliver on Friday.
The Drug Enforcement Administration's Dallas Field Office and the Carrollton Police Department conducted the investigation with assistance from School Resource Officers from the Carrollton – Farmer’s Branch and Lewisville ISDs. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phelesa Guy and Rick Calvert.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton stated that the charges demonstrate the office's commitment to holding those who engage in drug trafficking accountable and that the case is another example of the ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.