Operation Cookout: Eight people plead guilty in massive local drug trafficking conspiracy

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 18:27:33-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Eight people pleaded guilty this week for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and cocaine base in Hampton Roads.

In August 2019, more than 120 law enforcement officers from 30 law enforcement agencies in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas executed a major operation that resulted in 35 people being arrested in connection with Operation Cookout. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) confirmed that the amount of fentanyl that was intercepted was enough to kill 14 million people.

Authorities also seized 24 firearms, 30 kilograms of fentanyl, 30 kilograms of heroin, 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than $700,000 in cash.

To date, 46 defendants have been charged in this case. Of those, 38 have admitted their criminal conduct and pleaded guilty. Eight defendants are currently scheduled for trial.

Below is a list of the people who pleaded guilty this week:

Name, AgeHometownCharges
David Brandon Porter, 30HamptonConspiracy to distribute and PWID 280 grams + cocaine base and 500 grams + cocaine
Russell Patrick Johnson, 50SuffolkConspiracy to distribute and PWID 1 kg + heroin, 400 grams + fentanyl, and 500 grams + cocaine
April Loredo, 29Newport NewsUse of a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking
Iban Barreto Hernandez, 25Riverside, CaliforniaConspiracy to distribute and PWID 5 kg + cocaine and 1 kg + heroin
Carmen Suhey Miranda, 42Newport NewsConspiracy to distribute and PWID 100 grams + heroin and cocaine
Felix Omar Rodriguez-Roig, 40Newport NewsConspiracy to distribute and PWID 100 grams + heroin and cocaine
Lupe Camberos, 37Portland, OregonUse of a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking
Kerry Christian, 54HamptonConspiracy to distribute and PWID 500 grams + cocaine

According to the 88-count indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury in February, the 46 defendants were involved in an alleged large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy that began in March 2016. The co-conspirators participated in various criminal acts throughout the alleged conspiracy, including armed drug distribution, while assuming and carrying out different roles such as a supplier, packager, transporter, financier, distributor and facilitator throughout the life of the alleged drug trafficking ring.

The indictment alleges that the defendants and unindicted co-conspirators would purchase and receive narcotics from suppliers in Mexico, California and New York, and would arrange for heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and cocaine base to be transported to and within the Eastern District of Virginia using hidden traps in privately owned vehicles, couriers as well as semi-trailers, trucks and recreational vehicles.

It was further part of the conspiracy that the defendants and co-conspirators would use various locations throughout Hampton Roads to possess and prepare for distribution heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and cocaine base and to meet and discuss previous and future narcotics transactions. These different locations include houses and parking lots of businesses located in Newport News, Hampton, Suffolk, Carrolton, Yorktown, Lawrenceville, South Hill and Richmond.

According to the indictment, throughout the life of the drug trafficking ring, the co-conspirators used at least 94 different telecommunication devices such as pre-paid cellphones, Facebook and FaceTime and WhatsApp to conduct the day-to-day operations, including negotiating prices and arranging locations for purchasing and selling the drugs. Some of co-conspirators changed devices on a regular basis in an effort to thwart law enforcement surveillance. Typically, the cellphone numbers that were used were in pre-paid cellphones that did not need a subscriber’s name.

The indictment also alleges various offenses, including conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, cocaine base and fentanyl; conspiracy to launder money; felon in possession of a firearm; maintaining a drug-involved premises; use of a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking; interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises; and illegal re-entry by a previously deported or removed alien.

The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Operation Cookout.

Download the News 3 app for updates.