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Sinaloa cartel drug dealers attempted to sell cough medicine for $224,000

March 1, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Sinaloa cartel drug dealers attempted to sell cough medicine for $224,000 Juan Espinal-Tejada, left, and Francisco Espinosa-Suarez

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A drug courier’s life is not worth much to the Sinaloa cartel, a courier’s lawyer told a federal judge in Mississippi on Tuesday before her client was sentenced for distributing drugs that ended up being a non-narcotic cough suppressant.

Judge Louis Guirola Jr. sentenced Juan Espinal-Tejada and Francisco Espinosa-Suarez to five years each behind bars for drug trafficking across state lines, according to the Sun-Herald.

The DEA linked their communications to the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most infamous cartels working out of Mexico and until his arrest, was led by notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Once they’ve completed their sentences, the couriers will be deported to their native countries — the Dominican Republic for Espinal-Tejada, 37, and Mexico for 32-year-old Espinosa-Suarez.

Both men immigrated to the U.S. many years ago and eventually settled in Cleveland, Tennessee. They were supposed to be delivering close nine pounds of the potent and potentially deadly drug fentanyl to a purchaser in Ohio.

The buyer tested and refused to buy the substance that the drug dealers were attempting to sell, so the cartel instead sent the men to Gulfport.

DEA agents were waiting for the runner at Island View Casino, where they went to collect $224,000 for the artificial fentanyl. The men had loaded firearms in their vehicle.

After testing the substance that was seized, the DEA discovered that it was the cough medicine Noscapine.

Both Espinal-Tejada and Espinosa-Suarez confessed that they believed that they were carrying drugs.

“It goes to demonstrate how expendable couriers are,” Ellen Allred, Espinosa-Suarez’s attorney, told the judge. “Had he successfully sold counterfeit as drugs, he could have been hurt or killed.”

Before his sentencing, Espinal-Tejada told the judge through an interpreter: “I regret what I did. I knew it was illegal and I will not do it again.”

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