Two suspects arrested on drug charges

Published 2:02 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two suspected illegal aliens have been arrested for their alleged part in brining a pure form of methamphetamine into Picayune with possible plans of setting up a drug distribution ring.

The suspects have been identified as 38 year-old Jose Luis Avila-Gonzalez and 54 year-old Mardonio Figueroa-Gonzalez, both with a last known address of 4558 Ruswell Rd., Atlanta, Ga.

For two weeks the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department gathered information that led to the two suspect’s arrest. According to information gathered during the investigation the department also believes the two suspects were planning on setting up a methamphetamine distribution ring inside the City of Picayune, said Chief Investigator Donnie Saucier.

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Saucier said the type of methamphetamine that the suspects had on them, commonly nicknamed ice, is more pure than what is produced using a homemade lab. From a drug user’s perspective “ice” is considered to be of higher quality, he said.

Through the use of informants, under cover operations and surveillance Sheriff’s Department Narcotics agents knew that the two suspects were coming into Picayune with a half a pound of the drug. Saucier said that is a large amount of the drug, especially since it is typically sold by the gram.

For comparison, about 28 grams makes up an ounce and 16 ounces makes up a pound.

On Dec. 22, that half pound of the drug was delivered to an undercover operative and the two suspects then rented a hotel room to wait for delivery of a partial payment of about $8,500 in cash. Saucier said the street value of that amount of the drug is estimated to be about $22,000.

“Instead of receiving the money they received a visit from narcotics agents,” Saucier said.

Both suspects were arrested. Avila-Gonzalez was charged with transfer of a controlled substance while Figueroa-Gonzalez was charged with conspiracy to transfer a controlled substance.

Through additional investigation it was determined that both suspects were illegally residing in the United States so Immigration and Customs Enforcement was contacted. Subsequently a hold was placed on them by ICE. Saucier said the suspects are currently held in the Pearl River County jail.

During the investigation the Sheriff’s Department believes they have found information that plans by the two suspects to use Picayune as a centralized location for distributing the drug to surrounding areas such as New Orleans, the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg, Saucier said.

“We think they thought they were going to be safe here, but they were wrong,” Saucier said.