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Heroin trafficker sentenced for transporting 4.24 kilograms of heroin stashed inside car battery

ATLANTA – Francisco Castaneda Rivera has been sentenced to federal prison for transporting 4.24 kilograms of heroin from Texas to the Atlanta area hidden inside a car battery.

“Drug traffickers employ sophisticated and ever-changing tactics to bring their deadly product into our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “However, our law enforcement partners are able to adapt to their methods and combat this scourge.  Through the hard work of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we were able to stop these drugs from hitting our streets.”

Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented, “Drug traffickers like Castaneda Rivera often take extreme measures in order to hide the poison they peddle, as was the case in this investigation. This is a perfect illustration of the battle DEA, its law enforcement counterparts and the U.S. Attorney’s Office face when trying to prevent dangerous drugs from hitting the streets of our communities. As a result of DEA’s unwavering commitment and through the strength of its partnerships, Castaneda Rivera will spend well-deserved time in prison.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: In March and April 2018, DEA agents gleaned intelligence about a suspected drug trafficker who would be involved with the delivery of narcotics in the Union City, Georgia area.    

Several months later, on September 1, 2018, law enforcement officers in Montgomery, Alabama conducted a traffic stop of a truck which was driven by Rivera.  Intelligence gathered from the stop linked Rivera to a DEA investigation.   

On October 19 and 20, 2018, through various methods of intelligence, DEA agents learned that Rivera was traveling, via I-20 eastbound, from Houston, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia.  Georgia State Patrol conducted a traffic stop on Rivera’s truck in Douglas County, Georgia.  Troopers searched the vehicle and observed that the battery in the truck was significantly cleaner than the rest of the engine compartment.  Upon closer inspection, agents realized that the battery had been altered.  They opened it and found five packages wrapped in electrical tape along with a motorcycle battery wired to provide electrical current sufficient to operate the vehicle.  The packages were determined to contain 4.24 kilograms of heroin.

Francisco Castaneda Rivera, 65, of Houston, Texas, was sentenced to ten years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.  Rivera was convicted on these charges on May 15, 2019, after he pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. O’Neal and Garrett L. Bradford prosecuted the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.gov.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at [email protected] or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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