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Nine people convicted in large West Michigan drug trafficking conspiracy

Posted at 4:18 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 16:18:21-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Lansing man was sentenced to more than 11 years behind bars for his role in a nine-person drug trafficking conspiracy.

Lansing resident Jesus Cortez, 40, was sentenced to 137 months imprisonment, U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced Monday.

The conspiracy involved delivering drugs from Mexico to 11 counties in Michigan including Alger, Luce, Allegan, Berrien, Branch, Grand Traverse, Ingham, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Van Buren.

The drug trafficking conspiracy also included distributing Suboxone and methamphetamine inside correctional facilities, according to the Department of Justice.

Eight of the nine people were convicted while one, Arnulfo Trevino from Grand Rapids, died of natural causes shortly before sentencing. Sentences for those involved range from 24 months to 240 months imprisonment.

Two of the people convicted were serving sentences at the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) during the conspiracy, while three of them - Carlos Martinez, Rocky Krupa, and Jesus Cortez – joined the conspiracy almost immediately upon release from prison, authorities report.

The investigation was part of an Organized Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation called Operation Prison Break.

“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,” U.S. Attorney Birge stated. “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.”