Previous Deportee Busted Running Fentanyl Ring, Say Phoenix Police

fentanyl pills

A Mexican national arrested last week at a west Phoenix motel for possession of 15,000 fentanyl pills was identified as a previously deported criminal alien suspected of leading a local fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine ring, say police.

Previously deported 38-year-old Emmanuel Romero Hernandez was arrested by Phoenix Police narcotics detectives at a west-side Motel 6 last Tuesday and was later identified as a “leader of a Phoenix-based cell responsible for the sale and distribution of 50,000 fentanyl pills, multiple pounds of methamphetamine and heroin per month,” according to court records.

Romero Hernandez’s arrest took place when Phoenix Police received information from a patrol officer about possible illegal activity at a Motel 6 located near 59th Avenue and Interstate 10. A patrol officer arrested an adult female inside one of the rooms. During the arrest, officers observed drug ledgers and other paraphernalia which led to the request for assistance from narcotics detectives. Investigators later detained Romero Hernandez. Detectives searched the room and discovered approximately 15,000 fentanyl pills, two handguns, scales, multiple cell phones, and more than $9,000 in cash. After being interviewed, Hernandez claimed he was given $5,000 by two men he met the day before who allegedly told him to hold on to the fentanyl, according to authorities. Police transported Hernandez to the Maricopa County Jail and charged him with possession of narcotic drugs for sale, money laundering, and misconduct involving weapons for being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.

It was later determined that Romero Hernandez was the target of a three-month investigation led by Tempe Police where couriers were intercepted delivering illicit drugs in Tempe, Phoenix, and Avondale on Romero Hernandez’s direction, say police. His Phoenix-based drug trafficking cell was responsible for the sale and distribution of 50,000 fentanyl pills and multiple pounds of methamphetamine and heroin per month, according to court records. Investigators revealed that the drugs found in Hernandez’s alleged possession was worth over $160,000.

Additionally, court records show that Romero Hernandez was given a lifetime ban from entering the United States in 2017 after he was deported. He completed a prior prison sentence for drug sales in Arizona. Romero Hernandez reportedly admitted to illegally crossing back into the United States near Nogales approximately one year ago. He is being held on a $100,000 bond for conspiracy to sell and transport narcotics and dangerous drugs along with firearm violations.

In 2018, Breitbart News reported on a Mexico-linked drug gang busted in Buckeye, Arizona, by undercover investigators for the Maricopa County Drug Suppression Task Force. Police netted three arrests, 15 pounds of methamphetamine, and 519 fentanyl pills. Buckeye, approximately 30 miles west of downtown Phoenix, experienced a fentanyl-related death at a local high school, which drew significant local media attention. A Verrado High School baseball pitcher died unexpectedly in his home in early May from an accidental overdose, according to a medical examiner’s office report.

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at


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