Deputies: Largest heroin bust in Rowan Co. has ties to Mexican cartel

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — Deputies told Channel 9 that they have made the largest heroin bust in Rowan County history.

Authorities arrested Gerardo Juarez, his girlfriend Darya Borovkaya and Hugo Navarrete-Lopez Tuesday who they said are based in Mecklenburg County and have ties to the Mexican drug cartel.

(Gerardo Juarez, Darya Borovkaya)

The Rowan County Sheriff's Office investigation began three years ago when deputies started targeting large scale heroin distribution. Authorities said information gained from witnesses led deputies to a Mexican National heroin trafficking ring based in southeast Charlotte that had been supplying heroin to Rowan County for more than 10 years, with some transactions involving quantities of up to $10,000 worth at a time.

Investigators purchased large amounts of heroin from two of the suspects working or the Mexican National Drug Trafficking Organization (MNDTO) in Dec. 2016 and Jan. 2017. Authorities said some of the transactions happened in a bathroom restaurant in China Grove, while others in parking lots at shopping centers.

A search warrant was obtained by the Rowan County Sheriff's Office for the home in southeast Charlotte, where authorities found 478 grams of heroin, two handguns, one rifle, ammunition, tens of thousands of dollars and over 50 cell phones. Investigators said the cell phones were ringing constantly and they believe the calls were used in direct communications with MNDTO members in Mexico.

Authorities are trying to determine Juarez and Navarette-Lopez's true identies. Investigators believe that Juarez used a fake name to enter the country illegally more than a decade ago.

The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are expected to be made.

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