A Mexican illegal immigrant deported from the United States at least nine times is now facing drug trafficking charges, according to federal authorities.
Late last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the indictment of 27-year-old Mexican national Luis Tapia on charges of intent to distribute cocaine and fentanyl and illegal re-entry to the United States.
According news releases from both ICE and DOJ, Tapia was apprehended at his residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, last month. He reportedly tried to escape authorities through a second-floor window and then locked himself in a closet before being apprehended.
In the month prior to his arrest, feds say, the suspect fled law enforcement at a traffic stop where he falsely identified himself as his brother, who is currently in the U.S. as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary. The releases explain that the suspect cannot qualify for DACA amnesty due to prior felony convictions.
ICE says it has records of Taipa being deported nine times since 2012, with the most recent deportation taking place in April 2018.
Relatively cheap and potent, fentanyl is used as an additive in all kinds of illicit drugs on the black market such as heroin and cocaine, making it a key driver of overdose deaths in the ongoing drug crisis. Even a very tiny amount of the synthetic opioid can be deadly. According to the DEA, “as little as two milligrams is a lethal dosage in most people.”
The releases did not elaborate on the details leading to the drug charges, but said that the suspect had been charged with possession of over 400 grams of fentanyl with intent to distribute, which carries a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Illegally re-entering the United States after being removed is a felony under federal immigrant law. Justice Department numbers from August show that 72 percent of federal prosecutions against non-citizens were for illegal re-entry in 2018, while a mere .3 percent of them were for first-time illegal entry.