Ringleader of Extensive Sinaloa Cartel-Linked Fentanyl and Heroin Trafficking Network Sentenced in Virginia
The ringleader behind an extensive drug trafficking ring was sentenced today to 33 years in prison for distributing large amounts of fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine in Newport News and North Carolina.
“This defendant served in a significant leadership role as the regional distributor of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine for the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most prolific and violent cartels in the world,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “EDVA will continue working with our law enforcement partners to combat these transnational criminal organizations in order to protect the health and safety of our communities.”
According to court documents, Ramiro Ramirez-Barreto, 44, from the Mexican State of Morelos, operated a continuing criminal enterprise with ties to Virginia, North Carolina, and California. Ramirez-Barreto was linked to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, as were his drug sources, and his operation supplied cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl to numerous drug trafficking organizations in Newport News, Virginia, and in Henderson and Greensboro, North Carolina. According to one of Ramirez-Barreto’s many North Carolina customers, Ramirez-Barreto supplied him with 60 kilograms of heroin from early 2018 to mid-2019. Another one of Ramirez-Barreto’s customers was an inmate in federal prison operating a drug trafficking organization in Henderson, North Carolina, using a bootleg mobile phone.
In addition to his sentence, Ramirez-Barreto was ordered to pay a forfeiture money judgment of $4,200,000 and forfeit his house in Lawrenceville.
Barreto was arrested in 2019 as a result of Operation Cookout.
Background on Operation Cookout
In August 2019, over 120 law enforcement officers from 30 law enforcement agencies in Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas executed a major operation, known as Operation Cookout, which resulted in 35 defendants being arrested for their respective roles in the conspiracy, along with the seizure of 24 firearms, 30 kilograms of fentanyl, 30 kilograms of heroin, 5 kilograms of cocaine, and over $700,000 in cash.
To date, 45 total defendants have been charged in Operation Cookout. All 45 defendants have admitted their criminal conduct and pleaded guilty. Thus far, 41 defendants have been sentenced, with the majority being sentenced to prisons terms ranging from two to ten years, and five defendants sentenced between 15 to 25 years in prison.