U.S. Department of Justice
Press Release

Two California Men Charged with Conspiring and Attempting to Distribute Sixteen Kilograms of Fentanyl and Fourteen Kilograms of Cocaine in the Milwaukee Area


By - Jun 22nd, 2021 03:33 pm

Acting United States Attorney Richard G. Frohling of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced that on June 22, 2021, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Daniel Rodriguez-Lara (age: 24) of San Bernardino, California, and Richard Chavez (age: 41) of Los Angeles, California. The two-count indictment charges both men for conspiring to distribute and attempting to possess with intent to distribute kilogram quantities of fentanyl and cocaine in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 846. If convicted, both men will face a mandatory minimum of ten years to a maximum of life in federal prison, at least five years of supervised release, and up to a $10 million fine.

According to court documents, on June 13, 2021, a Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper conducted a traffic stop of a semi-tractor that was towing a car carrier trailer in Seward County, Kansas. The trailer was carrying several vehicles, including a 2013 Nissan Cube. Beneath the floorboards of the Nissan Cube, the Trooper discovered electronically controlled compartments. Inside the compartments, the Trooper found packages that contained a total of 16 kilograms of fentanyl and 14 kilograms of cocaine. The packages were being transported to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Court documents further reveal that law enforcement agents seized the actual fentanyl and cocaine, placed replica kilogram-shaped packages in the compartments, and arranged the transport and off-loading of the Nissan Cube to the delivery location in a parking lot in Milwaukee. In the early morning of June 17, 2021, agents saw two subjects enter the Nissan Cube and drive it away. When officers attempted to stop the Nissan Cube, the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed and eventually crashed in Bayside, Wisconsin. Both occupants fled on foot. Later that same morning, officers located and arrested both Rodriguez-Lara and Chavez.

“Opioid overdose deaths in Milwaukee County have continued to increase in 2021 and have caused lasting damage to families and our communities,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Frohling. “What the overwhelming majority of these deaths have in common is fentanyl — as little as two milligrams of which can be lethal depending on the user’s size and past history. Based on the collaborative work of federal, state, and local law enforcement, 16 fewer kilograms of fentanyl and 14 fewer kilograms of cocaine will be available to potentially devastate families in this district. Along with our law enforcement partners, the Department of Justice is committed to holding those who traffic in these substances accountable for their actions.”

“As this case demonstrates, drug traffickers utilize a variety of concealment methods to bring their deadly goods to our communities,” said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Milwaukee District Office Assistant Special Agent in Charge John McGarry. “Due to the close working relationship with our law enforcement partners, these drug traffickers were identified, stopped in their tracks, and will face justice in federal court. This significant fentanyl seizure surely saved lives.”

“The Milwaukee Police Department is a proud member of the North Central High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. Through this partnership, HIDTA recovered and removed a significant amount of very dangerous drugs from our community and the individuals arrested were indicted on very serious criminal charges. MPD is committed to working with our community, local, state and federal partners to continue to build sustainable neighborhoods free of crime,” said Acting Chief Jeffrey Norman.

This case was investigated by the North Central High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Milwaukee Police Department, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Colorado State Patrol, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation, the West Allis Police Department, the Mequon Police Department, the Bayside Police Department, the Glendale Police Department, the Brown Deer Police Department, the River Hills Police Department, and the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mario F. Gonzales.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, recovery is possible. For information on support and resources, please call 2-1-1 or visit recoverywisconsin.com.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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