Three Mecklenburg County residents were arrested by Rowan County sheriff’s officers this week as part of a three-year investigation into a Mexican heroin trafficking ring.
The trio face minimum prison terms of nearly 19 years if convicted on charges of trafficking heroin, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.
The ring was based in Charlotte and Matthews and trafficked heroin in Rowan County for at least 10 years, investigators said.
In the latest transactions, undercover officers bought up to $10,000 worth of heroin at a time in December and January, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. One transaction occurred in the bathroom of a China Grove restaurant and others in shopping center parking lots.
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The traffickers used fake registration plates and aliases to try to conceal their identities from law enforcement.
On Tuesday, a man using the name Gerardo Juarez, 39, of Matthews was arrested in the Walmart parking lot in the 300 block of South Arlington Street in Salisbury. He had 52 grams of heroin on him.
Authorities executed a search warrant on Juarez’s home and seized 478 grams of heroin, two handguns, a rifle, ammunition, cash, ledgers and and drug paraphernalia.
Also arrested were Darya Sergeyevna Borovskaya, 26, who lives in the Matthews home, and Hugo Fernando Navarrete-Lopez, 27.
Documents seized at the home detailed tens of thousands of dollars of drug sales.
Investigators also found evidence the suspects “were in direct communication with Mexican national drug trafficking organization members in Mexico,” the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Federal authorities are trying to determine the true identities of Juarez and Navarrete-Lopez, the sheriff’s statement said. The investigation to date shows Juarez previously entered the United States around 2005 under another name.
On Jan. 18, Borovskaya was convicted in Mecklenburg County of felony possession of cocaine and given 2 years of supervised probation.
Investigators also found that the person using Juarez’s name had a federal conviction in Texas and a cocaine trafficking arrest in 2010 in Birmingham, Ala.
“Borovskaya and Juarez (if that’s who he is) would be prohibited from possessing firearms and could be charged with possession of firearm by felon,” the Rowan County sheriff’s office statement said.
In Rowan County this week, Borovskaya was charged with six counts of trafficking heroin and one count of conspiracy to traffic heroin. Juarez was charged with four counts of trafficking heroin and one count of conspiracy to traffic heroin. Navarrete-Lopez was charged with trafficking heroin in Mecklenburg County.
All three were jailed on $1 million bail.