Lexington True Crime 2023: Two Suspects Caught with 28 Kilos of Cocaine and Fentanyl

The following is an excerpt from a DEA criminal complaint in the case of USA v. Ibarra & Gonzalez.

Historical Information:

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been investigating an identified male individual and his associates since August 2022 for money laundering and drug trafficking offenses. An undercover agent (UC) with the DEA agreed to pick up drug proceeds in Lexington. A money broker operating in Mexico arranged for the money pick-up and the repatriation of those drug proceeds to a cartel in Mexico.

On August 22, 2022, the identified individual delivered $99,960.00 in drug proceeds to the UC. The transaction was audio and video recorded. The identified individual was operating a white 2018 Genesis bearing a Kentucky registration of xxxxxx.

On August 23, 2022, officers obtained a search warrant from Fayette District Court Judge Lindsay Thurston to place a GPS tracking device on the 2018 Genesis. The tracker was affixed to the vehicle on August 25, 2022.

On September 24, 2022, the DEA UC received another contract to pick up drug proceeds in Lexington for another $100,000. On September 27, 2022, the same identified individual met with the DEA UC to deliver a shoebox containing $99,760 in drug proceeds to be laundered at the direction of the broker.

On November 10, 2022, DEA surveillance followed the identified individual to the area of xxx Hill Rise Drive, Lexington, KY. DEA agents and officers observed the identified individual meet with an Hispanic male (later identified as Ibarra) operating a white 2009 BMW X5 bearing Kentucky registration xxxxxx. The identified individual returned to the white 2018 Genesis with an item tucked under the left side of his jacket. Agents continued surveillance of the identified individual, including his return to his known address in Lexington. DEA investigators observed that the white bag in his possession appeared to contain rectangular objects. Based on officers’ training and experience, the rectangular objects were consistent in size and shape with kilogram quantities of controlled substances.

On December 2, 2022, in Lexington, KY, DEA investigators observed Gonzalez exit an apartment in Lexington carrying a large brown shopping bag before entering the white BMW automobile operated by Ibarra. Surveillance units then followed the BMW to the TownePlace Suites located at 980 Midnight Pass, Lexington, KY 40513. There, investigators observed Leynner Andre Riascos Yepes, a Colombian national, enter the BMW and exit a short time later with the aforementioned brown shopping bag in hand. Surveillance officers observed Yepes enter into a black Nissan Murano with the shopping bag in hand and drive away. Officers requested a traffic stop of the vehicle by Kentucky State Police officers. Yepes was operating the Nissan Murano. Drug proceeds in the amount of $20,270.00 were located in the vehicle operated by Yepes. A subsequent search of Yepes’ hotel room revealed an additional $80,295.00. In total, $100,565.00 of suspected drug proceeds were seized by DEA that evening.


On March 10, 2023, at approximately 1:30 pm, Special Agent Chris Hill and TFO Mike Hsiu were conducting surveillance on Ibarra as he entered the passenger seat of a gray Acura sedan bearing Kentucky license plate xxxxxx. Investigators have observed this vehicle operated by Gonzalez on multiple occasions during surveillance of Gonzalez and Ibarra. At approximately 1:40 pm, investigators followed the Acura to the Residence Inn located at 1080 Newtown Pike, Lexington, KY 40511. There, SA Hill observed the Acura proceed behind the hotel to a large dumpster located in the back-right corner of the parking lot. There, SA Hill observed Ibarra exit the passenger seat and retrieve two black suitcases from the dumpster before placing them into the back seat of the aforementioned Acura. The Acura then departed the hotel and proceeded inbound on Newtown Pike. SA Hill initiated a traffic stop on the Acura on Newtown Pike by Glen Arvin Avenue. SA Hill and TFO Hsiu observed Gonzalez to be the operator of the vehicle with Ibarra as the passenger.

A short time later, KSP Trooper Gabriel arrived on scene. The occupants then exited the Acura as Trooper Gabriel, utilizing his certified drug detection K-9, then conducted a “sniff” of the exterior of the Acura. The K-9 gave a positive alert to the backseat of the vehicle. Around this time, additional KSP officers arrived on scene and assisted with the search. Located in the backseat of the Acura were the two black suitcases that DEA investigators witnessed Ibarra retrieve from behind the dumpster and place them in the Acura. The suitcases were found to contain multiple kilograms of suspected narcotics. Both Ibarra and Gonzalez were then placed under arrest and read their Miranda Rights. Both individuals stated they understood. Ibarra self-identified as Alvaro Villa Ibarra and produced two Mexican photo identifications. He confirmed his date of birth as referenced on his identifications. Gonzalez self-identified and provided her date of birth as well. Gonzalez, though, did not have any photographic identification.

At approximately 2:20 pm, Trooper Lafe Owens, utilizing TruNarc, then field-tested some of the kilograms based on different packaging colors. TruNarc indicated the presence of cocaine hydrochloride inside the packaging of multiple kilograms, as well as fentanyl in additional kilograms. A preliminary gross weight of the suspected narcotics with packaging totaled 25.3 kilograms that are suspected to contain cocaine, and 2.82 kilograms of suspected fentanyl. Your affiant has utilized TruNarc on previous occasions and found it to be accurate and reliable. I know that both cocaine and fentanyl are Schedule II controlled substances. The quantities of both cocaine and fentanyl are consistent with distribution rather than mere personal use.

Based on the joint possession of approximately 28 kilograms of narcotics by Gonzalez and Ibarra, and the overall investigation, it is affiant’s belief that there is probable cause that Alvaro Villa Ibarra and Emely Heizel Bonilla Gonzalez possessed with intent to distribute both cocaine and fentanyl, both of which are Schedule II controlled substances.

Top photo: Stock photo of illegal drugs and money. (Adobe Stock)