A couple said to be found traveling with a toddler and seven kilos of fentanyl face trial on charges alleging they were delivering fentanyl in South Mississippi.
Uriel Adolfo Rayo-Dominguez, from Mexico, and Jennifer Castillo, of North Carolina, are held without bond pending trial set on a court calendar that starts Dec. 4. Both are 18.
Dominguez has told DEA and Border Patrol agents he was to be paid $8,000 to deliver China White to South Mississippi, a DEA Task Force agent said in an affidavit. China White is a designer drug similar to heroin and morphine, but is a type of fentanyl said to be 50 to 100 times more potent.
Their indictment reveals increasing efforts to stem the flow of illegal opioids on the Mississippi Coast and elsewhere as drug overdose deaths nationwide continue to rise. South Mississippi had more drug overdose deaths, most from opioids, in the first nine months this year than any other metro area of the state, according to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
A Gulfport police officer found the fentanyl in a white, powdery form in the trunk liner of Castillo’s car on Oct. 11 after stopping her vehicle on a careless driving violation, the affidavit said. Her 2017 Chevrolet Cruze was eastbound on Interstate 10 and was stopped at the 36 mile marker.
The officer searched the car after he commented that he smelled marijuana. Castillo said she had smoked some pot outside of the vehicle and remnants of marijuana were in the passenger-side door, the agent said.
Dominguez was driving the car without a license or other identification, the document said.
Agents turned Castillo’s 2-year-old daughter over to Child Protective Services.
A federal grand jury indicted them Oct. 12 on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute.
Both pleaded not guilty on Monday, records show.
In recent fentanyl cases, federal agents said they intercepted four kilos of fentanyl being delivered in Gulfport by couriers for the Sinaloa Cartel on Sept. 2.
A month later, on Oct. 1, federal agents said they arrested an Atlanta-based drug broker and an associate as they were delivering two kilos of fentanyl in Gulfport.
Two weeks later, federal and state agents held a news conference in Gulfport on Oct. 19 to announce the indictment of a suspected international drug trafficking manufacturer in China. In that case, Xiaobing Yan, 40, is accused of manufacturing fentanyl and fentanyl-based designer drugs and selling them on the internet and through distributors.
That case stemmed from the 2013 arrest of a former Gulfport woman and a Connecticut man in an Ocean Springs traffic stop, agents said.