Madison and Rankin Counties’ District Attorney Bubba Bramlett announced that on May 23, 42-year-old Fredy Gutierrez of Victorville, CA, and 51-year-old Gabriel Becerra Manuel of Zapotlanejo,
Jalisco, Mexico, pled guilty to trafficking fentanyl. Judge Dewey K. Arthur sentenced both Gutierrez and Manuel to 40 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with ten of those years to be served day-for-day, without the possibility of parole or early release.
“Fredy Gutierrez and Gabriel Manuel chose to traffic the very drug about which I have repeatedly warned our community,” stated Bramlett. “This was one of the largest busts in the United States, not counting those on the border between Mexico and the U.S. Recently released data from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice shows that between 2019 and 2021, fatal overdoses increased by approximately 94%, with an estimated 196 Americans dying every day from fentanyl. 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.”
On February 4, 2022, a Rankin County Sheriff’s Department deputy stopped an MCI passenger bus driven by Gabriel Manuel on Interstate 20 for a traffic violation. 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, Rankin County deputies located 81 bundles of fentanyl powder concealed in the bathroom wall in the bus’s rear, weighing 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 confirmed that the powder was indeed fentanyl. As a result, a Rankin County Grand Jury indicted Gutierrez and Manuel for Aggravated Trafficking on November 17, 2022.
“We hope this is the end of Gutierrez’s and Manuel’s criminal behavior and that this sentence will discourage others from choosing to make easy money by trafficking illegal drugs in and through our county, state, and country,” Bramlett said. “We would like to thank the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, the Homeland Security task force, and other officers who assisted in removing this deadly drug from our streets, thus sparing an untold number of lives. My office will continue to diligently prosecute these poison peddlers, ensuring if they are caught in Rankin or Madison Counties, long prison sentences will be sought as allowed by law.”