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Leader of Indianapolis-to-Medford drug ring gets 25 years

A Mexican national will serve nearly 25 years in prison for his role moving large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana between Indiana and Southern Oregon.

Cristian Gutierrez-Alvarez, 26, of Michoacan, Mexico, was sentenced earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Southern Indiana to 24 years and 7 months for his role at the center of a drug ring between Medford and Indianapolis in 2018. Federal agents seized pounds of methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana and arrested two dozen people, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office release out of Indianapolis.

Gutierrez-Alvarez had been on the DEA’s radar since late 2017, according to an affidavit filed early in 2019 year in Gutierrez-Alvarez’s case, but the investigation began in earnest in November 2018 with DEA agents wiretapping a prepaid cellphone purchased in Medford that Gutierrez-Alvarez used.

The DEA affidavit describes Gutierrez-Alvarez’s phone conversations with multiple co-defendants in the case over two months, describing how he arranged transfers of drug proceeds using Walmart money orders and coded language to describe where drugs were hidden in vehicles.

On Jan. 18, 2018, DEA agents arrested Gutierrez-Alvarez and two other suspects at the end of a three-day drive from Medford to California to Indianapolis, according to DEA. Inside a Nissan Armada SUV the DEA found 1.45 pounds of heroin hidden inside a rear speaker and 23 pounds of marijuana.

Federal agents in Oregon and Indiana seized nine pounds of methamphetamine, two pounds of heroin, nearly a pound of cocaine and 40 pounds of marijuana in 15 related searches over the following year in the two states. Also seized were 15 vehicles, 20 firearms and about $20,000.

Among Southern Oregonians arrested in the ring early last year was Kayla Cheryl Navarro of Medford. In July, Navarro was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Indiana to 46 months in prison, records show.

U.S. District Judge James Hanlon sentenced Gutierrez-Alvarez Wednesday to 295 months in prison after accepting guilty pleas on charges of conspiring to distribute controlled substances and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime, according to court records. He will be deported to Mexico after completing his sentence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.