Drug Shipments Orchestrated from Tennessee State Prison - Plea Agreement Calls for 25 Years in Prison
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – November 24, 2020 – A Nashville woman pleaded guilty yesterday to her involvement in a drug distribution conspiracy that pumped enormous amounts of illegal and deadly drugs into the Nashville area, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Jennifer Montejo, 32, was charged in a criminal complaint on December 12, 2019, with possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 400 grams or more of fentanyl, after being arrested at a Nashville bus station a week earlier as she returned from California, after travelling to Los Angeles, days earlier. At the time of her arrest, four kilograms of a fentanyl, and a kilogram of heroin were discovered in Montejo’s luggage. Montejo, at the time, was on bond for state drug charges in Dickson County, Tennessee, which resulted from an incident in July 2019, where the Tennessee Highway Patrol stopped Montejo on Interstate 40, as part of the on-going investigation as she was travelling from California, and subsequently found approximately ¾ of a kilogram of pills containing fentanyl, about one kilogram of heroin, and three firearms.
In addition to the conspiracy, Montejo pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl; possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug crime; and money laundering.
The elaborate scheme involved several co-conspirators, including the leader of the conspiracy who orchestrated the operation from his prison cell at a state prison facility in Nashville. The scheme resulted in dozens of kilograms of illicit drugs and thousands of pills, including heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine and marijuana shipped or brought into the mid-state and was carried out by the use of contraband cell phones which were unlawfully smuggled into the prison. The conspirators used WhatsApp, an encrypted communication service, to communicate about drugs, drug proceeds, firearms and violence. The incarcerated leader even offered significant monetary incentives to others to apply for employment with state or privately run prisons to aid in the illegal smuggling of contraband into the prisons. Montejo herself applied for employment as a guard with the prison in June 2019.
The scheme also involved the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds to Mexico and horrific violence towards co-conspirators who failed at their mission. For instance, on November 3, 2019, a woman was found near a Nashville park whose hand had been severed because she lost $50,000 in drug proceeds which she was transporting by bus. In another instance, the leader of the conspiracy ordered another co-conspirator to cut off his own pinky finger to prove his loyalty.
In furtherance of their drug conspiracy, Montejo and others regularly carried firearms between Nashville and California and continued to distribute counterfeit roxycodone pills, even after learning that people who ingested them ended up in hospital emergency rooms.
This investigation is continuing and to date has resulted in eighteen people being charged with federal drug distribution and other offenses. Montejo will be sentenced on March 26, 2021 and the other cases are pending disposition.
This investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations; Homeland Security Investigations; the Drug Enforcement Administration; The FBI; the Tennessee Highway Patrol; the Tennessee Department of Corrections – Office of Investigations; and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sunny A.M. Koshy and Brooke K. Schiferle.
Other defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.