9 kilos of heroin, 500K doses of fentanyl. Man in US illegally sentenced in Gulfport.

A man in the U.S. without documentation who was found with 500,000 fatal doses of fentanyl during a drug deal with a confidential informant last year was sentenced to prison Monday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport.

Judge Sul Ozerden sentenced Pablo Vega-Ontanon to 74 months, or more than 6 years, in prison for possession with intent to distribute heroin, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst of the Southern District of Mississippi and Jere T. Miles, a special agent in charge at Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans.

According to the release, Vega-Ontanon, 53, and two co-defendants arrived in Gulfport to sell heroin to a confidential informant. The three claimed to have 10 kilograms of heroin hidden in their vehicle.

Vega-Ontanon, who is from Mexico but was living in Georgia, was arrested, along with Eder Ortega-Cassarubias and Eric Estudillo-Carrazco.

The drugs in the vehicle were later tested and found to contain 9 kilograms of heroin and 1 kilogram of fentanyl, according to the release.

One kilogram of fentanyl can produce 500,000 fatal doses of the drug, Hurst and Miles said in the release.

Vega-Ontanon will serve five years or supervised release after his prison sentence.

Ortega-Cassarubias was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison on June 26.

Estudillo-Carrazco pleaded guilty to the same charge on August 28, 2019, and Ozerden will sentence him on November 27. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie.

Justin Mitchell is the southern regional growth editor for the Biloxi Sun Herald, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and Macon Telegraph. He also reports on LGBTQ issues in the Deep South, particularly focusing on Mississippi.