SIDNEY – The second of three people believed to be part of a large Mexican drug cartel has been sentenced to two years in prison for her part in being a link in a distribution chain of heroin.
Claudia E. Matute-Gonzales, 30, 1531 Spruce Ave., was handed the prison term recently in Shelby County Common Pleas Court. She now resides at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Marysville Reformatory for Women.
Judge James Stevenson also ruled her to be a major drug offender in addition to being guilty of trafficking in drugs, a third-degree felony.
She is the second defendant to be sentenced in the case.
On Sept. 10, Moriah Star Fragua, 31, of Salem, Oregon, was sentenced to four years in prison on a charge of trafficking in drugs, a second-degree felony. She was also declared a major drug offender.
A case against Phillip R. Romero, 30, also of Salem, Oregon, is still pending.
In December, local authorities intercepted a kilo of heroin at a local storage facility believed to be placed there by the trio. Estimated street value of the drug was between $50,000 and $100,000.
On Nov. 10, 2018, Phillips and Fragua were accused of delivering the heroin to the storage unit. On Nov.18, Matute-Gonzales was charged with preparing the heroin for distribution.
Shelby County Prosecutor Tim Sell told the SDN the trio rented a local storage unit storing the package of drugs inside. He stated the unit was left unlocked which was checked by storage personnel as part of the regular steps taken with an unlocked unit. The package was discovered, and police were called.
Sell said the package tested positive for heroin and confiscated. Authorities unloaded the package refilling it with rocks to the same approximate weight. While under surveillance at the unit, the package was retrieved and delivered to an alleged drug dealer in Dayton.
The prosecutor believes the drop off point was part of a drug cartel’s transportation avenue.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.