CHIPLEY — The Drug Enforcement Administration arrested four men in connection with drug charges on Sunday, March 17, after 7.9 pounds of methamphetamines were discovered at Cancun’s Restaurant in Chipley.
Arrested were Raymundo Reyes-Barragan, 43, of Chipley, on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; Hector Hernandez, 46, of Atlanta, Ga., on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; Ruben Heredia-Barron, 42, of Atlanta on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; and Alejandro Barron-Soto, 30, of Troy, Ala., on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida criminal complaint is dated March 18 and signed by Special Agent John C. Manna, and a probable cause affidavit outlined the incidents leading up to the arrests.
According to the affidavit written by Special Agent Manna, the men were arrested in connection with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute in excess of 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine.
“In April 2012, the DEA initiated an investigation into a drug trafficking organization based in Northern Florida that moved or transported cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine from Texas and Atlanta, Georgia, to Northern Florida,” the affidavit states.
A DEA informant, identified as “Cooperating Source” in the affidavit, and who has provided information to the agency for over 25 years, began a series of telephone calls and text messages with Reyes-Barragan on March 6, according to the affidavit, during which the informant negotiated with Reyes-Barragan for the purchase of pound quantities of methamphetamine.
According to Manna, the informant’s “assistance to the DEA has resulted in the arrest of dozens of drug traffickers and the seizure of hundreds of kilograms of drugs. I have worked with the CS for over 20 years and have never found information the CS provided to be untruthful.”
On Wednesday, March 6, the informant reported to Manna that Reyes-Barragan and the informant had talked on the telephone, and during that conversation Reyes-Barragan said that he had a source of suppy for methamphetamine in Atlanta who could provide the drug for $22,000 per kilogram.
On Saturday, March 16, the informant told Manna that at about 2 p.m. Reyes-Barragan sent the informant a text message stating that “Los Gallos” were on the way, according to the affidavit.
“I know from my experience conducting narcotics investigations that drug traffickers use coded language when referring to drugs while speaking to one another on the telephone,” Manna states in the affidavit. “I also know from conducting this investigation that Reyes-Barragan has used the word ‘Gallo’ when referring to one kilogram of methamphetamine.”
On Saturday, March 16, at 10:30 p.m. the informant contacted Manna and said that he had just completed a series of phone calls with Reyes-Barragan. According to the affidavit, Reyes-Barragan agreed to meet with the informant’s associate at Cancun’s Restaurant in Chipley on Sunday, March 17, at 9 a.m. in order for the informant’s associate to bring money to purchase three kilograms of methamphetamine from Reyes-Barragan.
The informant also told Manna that Reyes-Barragan said that the “gallos” were close.
On Sunday, March 17, law enforcement established surveillance at Cancun’s Restaurant, where officers saw a white Chevrolet Tahoe arrive at about 8:30 a.m., according to the affidavit. The Tahoe departed after several minutes.
At about 8:35 a.m., Manna spoke with the informant, who told Manna that he had just spoken to Reyes-Barragan by telephone and that Reyes-Barragan said that he was inside the restaurant and his friends were coming to the restaurant.
At about 9:07 a.m., three vehicles arrived at the restaurant. One vehicle parked to the rear of the restaurant, while a second vehicle, a red Mazda, entered the parking lot and parked on the side of the restaurant in the north side of the parking lot. A third vehicle, a silver Volkswagen, entered directly behind the red Mazda and parked on the north side of the restaurant next to the red Mazda, according to the affidavit.
The driver of the Mazda, later identified as Barron-Soto, and the passenger, later identified as Heredia-Barron, climbed out of the vehicle. The driver of the silver Volkswagen, later identified as Hernandez, also exited his vehicle. The three men walked to the rear of the restaurant, according to the affidavit.
After several minutes, Hernandez returned to the silver Volkswagen and drove the car to the rear of the restaurant. When the Volkswagen stopped behind the restaurant, the turn signals and rear lights of the Volkswagen began to illuminate and flash.
At 9:17 a.m., the informant told Manna that he had just spoken with Reyes-Barragan and the “gallos” had arrived. Then at 9:24 a.m., Barron-Soto and Heredia-Barron left the parking lot, driving north on Main Street in the Mazda. A Florida Highway Patrol cruiser followed the Mazda.
Hernandez saw the Highway Patrol cruiser and hurried toward the Volkswagen, according to the affidavit. He and a woman identified as Regia Abreu got into the Volkswagen and drove south on Main Street.
Troopers from the Highway Patrol conducted a traffic stop on the Volkswagen just south of the restaurant. During the stop, officers used a narcotics K-9 drug dog to search around the car. The dog alerted to the Volkswagen for the odor of narcotics, according to the affidavit.
Meanwhile, a Highway Patrol trooper stopped the red Mazda on Highway 90 in Chipley. At the time of the stop, Barron-Soto, who was driving the Mazda, tried to run away from the car but was apprehended.
The Mazda was returned to Cancun’s Restaurant where officers deployed a narcotics K-9 drug dog, who alerted to the odor of narcotics, according to the affidavit.
At about the same time as the traffic stops, law enforcement officers went to the restaurant, where Manna and other officers went to the rear of the building. Reyes-Barragan walked out of the rear of the restaurant, and was asked by officers if there was anyone inside the restaurant.
Reyes-Barragan said there was not anyone in the building, but Manna heard noises and voices inside the restaurant, so officers entered the restaurant for a security sweep, locating several workers, according to the affidavit.
Reyes-Barragan then provided verbal and written consent for law enforcement to search the restaurant.
During the search, officers discovered six Tupperware containers, individually wrapped in cellophane, inside a black trash bag in the storage shed to the rear of the restaurant, according to the affidavit.
“I looked at the Tupperware containers and saw that each container held a substance resembling methamphetamine and that each container was wrapped in cellophane,” Manna wrote in the affidavit. “The substance tested positive for methamphetamine. I weighed the six plastic containers and the total weigh was approximately 3.6 kilograms.”
One kilogram equals 2.2 pounds — 3.6 kilograms equals 7.9 pounds.
During the search of the Volkswagen, law enforcement discovered a concealed trap to the side of the left rear passenger seat. The concealed trap, which was electronically activated, was empty.
Law enforcement then arrested Reyes-Barragan, Hernandez, Abreu, Barron-Soto and Heredia-Barron. Abreu was later released after post-arrest interviews, according to the affidavit.
During a search of cell phones belonging to Reyes-Barraga and Barron-Soto, references to “gallos” were found in text messages, which Manna said he believed were references to the drugs.
According to the affidavit, during a post-Miranda interview of Heredia-Barron at the DEA office in Panama City, Heredia-Barron told Manna that he and Barron-Soto met up with Hernandez at a Taco Bell in Troy, Ala., and Hernandez followed them down to Cancun’s Restaurant.
During a post-Miranda interview of Hernandez at the Panama City DEA office, Hernandez told Manna that an unidentified subject in Atlanta let Hernandez use the silver Volkswagen so that Hernandez and Abreu could travel to Panama City and then to Miami. The subject in Atlanta asked Hernandez to pick something up for him and gave Hernandez a telephone number for Hernandez to call so that Hernandez could contact this unknown person and then follow that person to Panama City.
Hernandez used that telephone number to link up with the red Mazda at the Taco Bell in Troy, according to the affdavit, which he then followed to Cancun’s Restaurant in Chipley.
Hernandez said he parked next to the red Mazda at the restaurant and then walked to the rear of the restaurant. Barron-Soto told Hernandez to move the Volkswagen to the rear of the building, then Hernandez said he went to the restroom and, upon returning, Heredia-Barron was walking away from the area near the left rear passenger seat of the Volkswagen.