Three with connections to Mexican drug cartel charged with heroin, gun possession

Published 2:03 pm Thursday, February 2, 2017

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office charged two of three people with connections to a Mexican drug cartel after a three-year federal, state and local investigation of heroin trafficking. The two were arrested Tuesday. The third person was arrested by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and remains in jail there.

Rowan officials charged Gerardo Juarez, 39, of 2521 Cross Point Circle, Apartment 24, Matthews, with four counts of felony trafficking in heroin or opium and felony conspiring to traffic in opium. His girlfriend, Darya Sergeyevevna Borovsykaya, 26, also known as Dasha, was charged with six counts of felony trafficking in heroin or opium and one count of felony conspiring to traffic in opium.

Federal authorities are trying to determine the true identity of Juarez. He was arrested Tuesday in the Wal-Mart parking lot, 323 S. Arlington St., with 52 grams of heroin in his jacket. Officials said at the same time, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, along with N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, obtained a search warrant for the Matthews residence.

Investigators seized the following at the apartment: 478 grams of heroin (half a kilo with a street value of $100,000), two handguns, one rifle, ammunition, about 50 cellphones, U.S. currency, a vacuum sealer, drug paraphernalia, ledgers and other items they said were used in the drug-trafficking operation.

Borovsykaya and Hugo Fernando Navarrete-Lopez, 27, were arrested in Mecklenburg County. Documents including ledgers seized at the Matthews residence detailed tens of thousands of dollars in drug sales.

Navarrete-Lopez, 27, remains in the Mecklenburg County Detention Center under a $1 million bond. His true identity is still not known. He is charged with felony trafficking in heroin or opium. Borovsykaya and Juarez were each held on $1 million bond and remain in the Rowan County jail.

In 2013, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office began targeting large-scale heroin distribution here. The investigation found that multiple Rowan County residents purchased heroin, prompting searches of several locations in Rowan County and the seizure of large amounts of heroin, money and firearms.

Information was gleaned from multiple cooperating witnesses that a Mexican heroin-trafficking ring based in the Charlotte-Matthews area had been supplying heroin to people in Rowan County for more than 10 years, with some transactions involving quantities worth as much as $10,000 at a time.

In December and January, investigators bought large amounts of heroin from two people working for the Mexican National Drug Trafficking Organization (MNDTO).  The transactions involved ounces of heroin that were delivered by passenger vehicles to Rowan County, authorities said.

Investigators said one exchange took place in a restroom at a restaurant in China Grove while others occurred in parking lots of area shopping centers. The suspects used fraudulent registration plates and aliases to try to conceal their identities from law enforcement, officials said.

Rowan Deputy Chief David Ramsey said a temporary paper license tag was seized by investigators with the name of Carolina Auto Sales, a fake Rock Hill, S.C., automotive business, on it. He said Juarez is believed to be the person who made the paper tag for one of the vehicles used.

Investigators determined that the suspects were in direct communication with Mexican National Drug Trafficking Organization members in Mexico. The investigation found that Juarez had previously entered the United States about 2005 under another name.

On Jan. 18, Borovsykaya was convicted in Mecklenburg County of felony possession of cocaine and placed on 24 months’ supervised probation. Additionally, the person using Juarez’s name had a previous federal conviction in Texas and a previous cocaine-trafficking arrest in 2010 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Borovsykaya and the man believed to be Gerardo Juarez would be prohibited from possessing firearms and could be charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

Juarez, Borovsykaya and Navarrete-Lopez face potential penalties of 18.75 years to 23.25 years in state prison and fines of $500,000 because of the amount of heroin involved.

Investigators said it is clear that the Mexican National Drug Trafficking Organization is pushing huge amounts of heroin into the Charlotte area.

The investigation is ongoing with additional arrests expected.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.