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70,000 fentanyl pills seized during undercover drug bust at Evansville hotel

Feds arrest man with 70,000 fentanyl pills in Evansville

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A monthslong drug investigation by multiple agencies led to the confiscation of over 70,000 fentanyl pills at a hotel in Evansville Monday.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by News 8, several law enforcement agencies in Evansville and Henderson, Kentucky, began an investigation in May into a drug cartel based out of Mexicali, Mexico, that was operating in southern Indiana and western Kentucky.

An undercover Drug Enforcement Agency officer successfully purchased methamphetamine and fentanyl from the organization on May 19. Law enforcement seized the drugs when they arrived in Indiana and Kentucky from Calexico, California.

Later, in August, the agent and the United States Postal Service intercepted a package of 4,000 counterfeit fentanyl pills.

Starting on Aug. 27, the agent negotiated with an unknown Hispanic male in Mexicali for the delivery of fentanyl and methamphetamine to Evansville.

Through a series of text messages over WhatsApp, the agent arranged the delivery of 100,000 fentanyl pills and 50 lbs of meth. The drugs would be delivered over two trips.

The Hispanic male later informed the agent that a drug courier would be bringing 50,000 fentanyl pills for $100,000. The quantity was later raised to 60,000 pills for a total of $120,000, plus a $2,500 delivery fee.

Around 10 a.m. Monday, the agent met with the courier, identified as Javier Moreno-Garibaldi, at the Holiday Inn Express on Evansville’s west side.

During the exchange, the agent paid the delivery fee with authorized funds, or buy money, to Moreno-Gabaldi. Moreno-Garibaldi then provided a dog kennel containing the pills.

Moreno-Garibaldi put the kennel in the agent’s vehicle, and the agent exchanged the $120,000 of buy money with the courier. Law enforcement officers set up around the hotel took Moreno-Garibaldi into custody without incident.

When investigators spoke with Moreno-Garibaldi, he said that a Hispanic male known as “Gordo” from Mexicali contacted him about delivering the drugs to Evansville.

Moreno-Garibaldi left from Salinas, California, picked up the pills in Phoenix, Arizona, then left for Evansville.

Docs say Moreno-Garibaldi told officers that he was supposed to take the $120,000 payment back to Arizona, where he would be paid $14,000 for the delivery. He also said that he knew there were drugs in the kennel, but believed it was only 5 kilograms of cocaine.

A later search of the kennel by investigators recovered five bags of approximately 70,000 fentanyl pills.

Moreno-Garibaldi was later taken to the Henderson County Detention Center and booked on a federal hold.