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Two sentenced for trafficking over 200 pounds of fentanyl through Mississippi

Fredy Gutierrez (left) and Gabriel Becerra Manuel (right) (Photo courtesy of Rankin County District Attorney's Office)

Two men have been sentenced to serve time in prison for attempting to traffic over 200 pounds of fentanyl through Mississippi.

One week ago, 42-year-old Fredy Gutierrez of Victorville, Calif., and 51-year-old Gabriel Becerra Manuel of Zapotlanejo, Jalisco, Mexico, pled guilty to trafficking the large amount of fentanyl across state lines.

According to court documents, a Rankin County Sheriff’s Department deputy stopped an MCI passenger bus driven by Manuel on Interstate 20 for a traffic violation on February 4, 2022.

Upon approaching the bus, the deputy found Gutierrez and Manuel to be the only two passengers.

While speaking to the two individuals, the deputy noted numerous inconsistencies in their travel plans and itinerary, including where they were coming from and going and the reason for the trip.

During a consensual bus search, officers located 81 bundles of fentanyl powder concealed in the wall of the bus bathroom. In total, the fentanyl weighed 91.9 kilograms, or just over 200 pounds.

The deputy arrested Gutierrez and Manuel for trafficking fentanyl and turned the bundles over to the Mississippi Forensics Laboratory for analysis.

The lab later confirmed that the powder was fentanyl, resulting in both Gutierrez and Manuel receiving charges for Aggravated Trafficking on November 17, 2022.

“This was one of the largest busts in the United States, not counting those on the border between Mexico and the U.S.,” District Attorney John K. Bramlett, Jr., stated.

Judge Dewey K. Arthur has now sentenced both Gutierrez and Manuel to 40 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with 10 of those years to be served day-for-day without the possibility of parole or early release.

“Recently released data from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Justice shows that between 2019 and 2021, fatal overdoses increased by approximately 94 percent, with an estimated 196 Americans dying every day from fentanyl,” Bramlett added. “In 2022, the DEA seized over 57 million fentanyl-laced counterfeit prescription pills and over 13,000 pounds of fentanyl powder – the equivalent of about 410 million potentially deadly doses of fentanyl. That is enough fentanyl to kill the entire U.S. population.”

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