Lincoln man pleads guilty to distributing fentanyl-laced cocaine that led to overdoses – Lincoln Journal Star

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A Lincoln man has admitted to selling drugs that led to six overdoses in August.
Brandon T. Davis, 38, will face at least 25 years in federal prison when he’s sentenced in May, according to the plea agreement that caps his sentence at 27½ years. 
At a hearing Friday held by video, Davis pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing a mixture of cocaine and fentanyl causing serious bodily injury. 
Davis
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Fullerton said on Aug. 13 Lincoln Police were called to a bar near 14th Street and Cornhusker Highway after two men were found on the ground in the parking lot.
Both were unconscious. 
She said police did CPR until Lincoln Fire and Rescue arrived. 
One of the men was revived with the overdose-reversing drug Narcan and told police they had shared cocaine in the other man’s truck. Fullerton said the other man was taken to the hospital, where he was put on a breathing tube and placed on a heart and lung machine. 
Fullerton said when his condition improved he told police he bought what he thought was 1 gram of cocaine from Davis for $100. 
Lab results on the white powdery substance that police found in the truck with a straw came back positive for cocaine and fentanyl.
Those struggling with addiction can call the Lincoln Drug Crisis Hotline at 402-475-5683, CenterPointe at 402-475-6695 or the National Opioid Hotline at 800-662-4357
Fullerton said three days later, on Aug. 16, police were called to a Lincoln home near First and Adams streets on overdoses involving four people.
Two women weren’t breathing. The person who called 911 showed signs of overdose, too, after police got there. 
She said police also found a man, who had been at the house before officers got there, passed out and not breathing on a nearby park bench.
All four survived with the help of CPR and Narcan. 
Fullerton said a search of the house turned up a plate with cocaine and fentanyl residue and a cut straw and a plastic bag with residue.
The two women said they had gotten what they thought was a gram of cocaine from Davis. 
Fullerton said that night police got a warrant to search Davis’ home about a mile east of there, near Knox and Portia streets, and found Davis in the basement, along with 14.5 grams of suspected cocaine, a digital scale with residue, prescription pills and more than $6,000 in cash.
At the plea hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart asked Davis if what Fullerton said was true.
“Did you distribute illegal drugs?” she asked him.
“Yes,” Davis answered.
The charges don’t involve overdose deaths. 
At a news conference in August, police said there had been six overdose deaths that month, and at least 26 of the 50 overdoses tracked in Lincoln over the previous month had been tied to cocaine laced with fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that, when mixed with illegal drugs, can cause an overdose even through amounts as small as a grain of sand.
Narcan, an emergency drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, is available for free at the Hy-Vee at 5010 O St., Kohll’s Pharmacy at 27th and Vine streets, Genoa Healthcare at 2301 O St. and the U-Save Pharmacy in Waverly.
This is cash seized from a stop on Interstate 80 near Lincoln.
The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office says it found $103,194 in suspected drug money and arrested a 25-year-old North Carolina man in a traffic stop on Interstate 80 west of Lincoln shortly before 10 a.m. Friday.
Capt. Ben Houchin said Brandon Montoya, of Charlotte, was stopped in a westbound Toyota Tundra for following too closely and driving on the shoulder. During the stop, Houchin said, the deputy developed suspicions Montoya was involved in illegal activity. A search turned up the money, which was sealed and in a suitcase, and a ledger.
Houchin said deputies reached out to law enforcement in Charlotte, where Montoya lives and rents a storage unit, believing that there was a strong possibility they would find a large amount of narcotics there.
He said the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department took the information, got search warrants and found 1,290 pounds of marijuana and THC edibles in Montoya’s storage unit and at his home, tens of thousands of empty and loaded bottles of THC oil, marijuana cigar tubes and THC vape cartridges, 10 pounds of THC wax, 40 pounds of marijuana, packing materials, a 9mm Glock handgun and $90,000 in cash.
Houchin said the drugs added up to 1,831 pounds.
Edward Babb
Brandon Arrington
Two men remained at the Lancaster County jail Thursday, a day after prosecutors charged them in connection with 645 pounds of marijuana found in their rental truck.
Brandon Arrington, 30, of McDonough, Georgia, and Edward Babb of Houston both are facing four felonies: two counts of possession with intent to deliver and two counts of no drug tax stamp.
In an affidavit for their arrests, a Lancaster County Sheriff’s deputy said he stopped a GMC Penske rental truck with Virginia plates Tuesday after seeing its passenger side tires cross onto the shoulder of Interstate 80 near the Lincoln Airport exit.
During the traffic stop, the deputy became suspicious the men were involved in criminal activity.
They both denied a request to search the truck, but the deputy deployed his police dog around it after seeing what he believed to be marijuana residue on the floorboard.
The search turned up 645 pounds of marijuana and 4.74 pounds of THC vapor pens in the truck’s cargo area inside cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic wrap, according to court records.
On Wednesday, at their first court appearances on the charges, Lancaster County Judge Matt Acton set their bonds at $250,000.
Steven McElmury, 69, of Cedaredge, Colorado, was caught with 515 pounds of marijuana in the bed of his truck by Lancaster County deputies in January 2016. He was sentenced to 18 months to three years in prison. 
A Lancaster County sheriff’s deputy found nearly $1 million in vacuum-sealed bags when they stopped Ryan Perich, 30, of Elk Grove, California, in January 2014. Perich claimed he knew the money was drug related and that he was transporting it from the East Coast to California. Papers found in his vehicle contained addresses and entry code information to storage units on the East Coast that were believed to contain information on drug debts and money collected. Investigators believe the money found was the equivalent of 208 pounds of high-quality, indoor-grown marijuana. 
Perich was sentenced to one year and a day in prison.
Lancaster County Sheriff’s deputies found $500,000 worth of methamphetamine secreted inside a Iowa man’s car during a traffic stop west of Lincoln in April 2018, Sheriff Terry Wagner said.
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of Council Bluffs was driving east on Interstate 80 when a deputy pulled him over near the Nebraska 103 exit for following too closely, Wagner said.
During the stop, the deputy developed “reasonable, articulable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot” and had a police dog sniff around the Pontiac G6, he said.
The dog indicated drugs were inside, and deputies searched the car, finding 12 pounds of meth in void spaces in the car’s body, Wagner said.
Homeland Security investigators arrested Rodriguez-Lopez and took him to the Douglas County jail. International drug trafficking is among Homeland Security’s enforcement priorities.
The 30-year-old was charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of meth, according to federal court records.
Federal investigators also searched a home near Omaha’s Ak-Sar-Ben area  and seized one pound of meth, worth nearly $19,000, miscellaneous documents and a cell phone, according to an affidavit.
They arrested the man at the house, identified in court documents as Ramon Ceballo Gaspar.
Federal investigators believe Ceballo Gaspar was dealing meth in the Omaha metro area and was awaiting the meth hidden in Rodriguez-Lopez’s car, according to the affidavit.
Ceballo Gaspar has also been charged with the same federal drug offense.
Three men were arrested and more than 300 pounds of marijuana seized by Lancaster County Sheriff’s deputies during separate traffic stops on Interstate 80 near Lincoln in February 2018.
The first stop occurred near the Nebraska 103 exit, according to an arrest affidavit.
A deputy pulled over an eastbound SUV for speeding and following too closely and asked to search the vehicle after developing an unspecified suspicion that “criminal activity was afoot.” A police dog indicated it smelled the odor of drugs inside, the affidavit said.
Deputies found 98 packages of marijuana in boxes and a duffel bag in the rear hatch area, the affidavit said.
The driver, Doua Vu, 50, of Fresno, California, jailed on possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and no drug tax stamp.
Deputies two days later stopped two eastbound vehicles they believed to be traveling together: a car for following too closely and a truck for traveling over the shoulder line, the affidavit said.
The truck driver, Ariel Hernandez of Chicago, had THC concentrate in the cup holder, investigators said.
The deputy, believing the 27-year-old was involved in criminal activity, searched the truck and found seven duffel bags containing 134 pounds of marijuana and 2,150 THC vapor-pen cartridges, the affidavit said.
Hernandez was taken to jail on suspicion of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. The driver of the car, Samuel Colonna, 22, of Chicago, was jailed on suspicion of aiding and abetting possession with intent to deliver.
Deputies with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office found 55 pounds of cocaine inside a tractor-trailer traveling on Interstate 80 on Feb. 28, 2017. They arrested the driver, 56-year-old Gustavo Zamora, charging him with possession of more than 140 grams of cocaine. If convicted, he could face 20 years in prison.
A Lancaster County sheriff’s deputy spotted a westbound Chrysler Pacifica following too closely in late January 2018 near mile marker 390, Investigator Jarod Brabec said. 
The deputy pulled over the Pacifica and smelled marijuana while contacting the driver and passenger, Brabec said. 
A search of the van, a rental with New York plates, turned up broken, pre-rolled marijuana joints in a Red Bull can, a baggie with amphetamine residue in a sunflower seed bag, and three cake mix cans containing $234,956 in the van’s cargo area.
Brabec said the cans were made to look as if they had a factory seal on them.
The driver and passenger, 25-year-old Kevin Conrado of Los Angeles and 34-year-old Vazgen Manjikian of Van Nuys, California, were lodged in Lancaster County jail on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. 
State troopers arrested two people and seized more than 250 pounds of marijuana found in a fake compartment during an Interstate 80 traffic stop near Lincoln in May 2018, according to court documents.
James Conry and Courtney Passiglia were stopped by the Nebraska State Patrol near the 27th Street exit after a trooper saw an after-market compartment on their eastbound flatbed truck, a trooper said in an affidavit for their arrests.
The trooper had followed the truck, which was hauling lumber, after he spotted the suspected compartment in Seward County, the affidavit said.
Passiglia, the driver, was issued a warning for following too closely, and the trooper had a police dog sniff around the truck.
The dog indicated it smelled drugs coming from the truck, and both Conry and Passiglia denied the trooper’s request to search their property or the truck, the affidavit said.
The trooper pried open the compartment and found 263 pounds of marijuana in heat-sealed bags, according to the State Patrol.
Both Conry and Passiglia were arrested and have been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
A Lancaster County jury has found a 32-year-old Green Bay, Wisconsin, man guilty of possession with intent to deliver marijuana for more than 200 pounds found in an SUV he was traveling in tandem with along Interstate 80 last year.
Ker Yang denied he knew of the plan to deliver drugs or was a part of it.
His father, Bill Yang, is serving a 30-month sentence at a Lincoln prison for his part in the crime. Nebraska State Patrol troopers found the drugs on Feb. 22, 2018, according to prosecutors.
They say troopers pulled over an eastbound Ford Expedition for not having a front license plate, before discovering it was covered by ice and snow. Ker Yang was driving in the SUV.
Troopers also stopped an eastbound Toyota Tundra for speeding.
A State Patrol dog indicated the smell of drugs coming from the Expedition, and after a search, troopers found a small amount of marijuana, he said.
Believing the vehicles were traveling together, investigators also searched the Tundra and found 218 pounds of marijuana under the bed cover, the State Patrol said. The street value was estimated at $654,000.
Lancaster County sheriff’s deputies seized 214 pounds of marijuana and arrested a driver they say was hauling it across Nebraska in early 2018, according to court documents.
A deputy pulled over an eastbound U-Haul truck driven by 54-year-old James M. Casey of Yuma, Arizona, for speeding on Interstate 80 near the U.S. 77 South interchange, the sheriff’s office said in an affidavit for his arrest.
The deputy gave Casey a warning and asked to search his vehicle after developing an unspecified suspicion that “criminal activity was afoot,” the affidavit said.
Casey denied the deputy’s request, then a police dog indicated it smelled drugs in the truck, according to the sheriff’s office. The deputy found the marijuana in 10 boxes and garbage bags in the back of the truck.
Casey was taken to jail and later charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana. 
Two California men were arrested in early June in an Interstate 80 traffic stop in Lincoln after deputies found 145 pounds of marijuana in their SUV, according to court records.
A Lancaster County sheriff’s deputy pulled over a Ford Explorer driven by David Gonzales-Nava for following too closely near the west U.S. 77 exit, an affidavit for his arrest said.
The deputy summoned Gonzales-Nava back to his cruiser, and during conversation, developed unspecified “reasonable suspicion” that the driver and his passenger, Ismael Sandoval-Aparicio, were involved in criminal activity, the affidavit said.
He asked to search the SUV and found 145 pounds of marijuana in four large suitcases and a duffel bag in the back of the SUV, the deputy said.
Sandoval-Aparicio, 24, of Livingston, California, and Gonzales-Nava, 29, of Oakdale, California, were arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver.
Lancaster County deputies just west of the Northwest 48th Street interchange stopped a 1998 Fleetwood motor home in April 2018 on suspicion of several traffic violations, Sheriff Terry Wagner said. 
Deputies asked to search the motor home, and Richard L. White Jr. and Joy White, his wife, allowed deputies to look inside, Wagner said. 
In the bedroom of the Tulsa couple’s motor home, investigators found 62 heat-sealed packages of marijuana stashed under the mattress, the sheriff said. 
The marijuana weighed over 116 pounds, he said.
Richard White, 47, was taken to jail on suspicion of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. His wife, 54, was ticketed and released on suspicion of the same offense. Investigators believe the couple was bound for Tulsa. 
Lancaster County sheriff’s deputies arrested suspected Oregon marijuana processor Richard Wilkinson in November after finding 110 pounds of marijuana, plus about $1.1 million in a cannabis extract called shatter, during a traffic stop, Sheriff Terry Wagner says. Wilkinson was stopped near the downtown Lincoln interchange on eastbound Interstate 80, Wagner said.
A California woman was arrested Friday morning after Lancaster County sheriff’s deputies found more 100 pounds of marijuana in her vehicle during a traffic stop.
At about 9:30 a.m., Pakou J. Yang, 37, of Oroville, was pulled over on Interstate 80 about three miles east of the Pleasant Dale interchange for following another vehicle too closely.
During the stop, a deputy determined the 2018 Nissan that Yang was driving was a one-way rental, which the deputy described in court records as a common sign of drug trafficking. She also became “extremely nervous” while being questioned by the deputy.
Deputies searched the vehicle after a drug-sniffing dog indicated the presence of drugs. They found 109.5 pounds of vacuum-sealed marijuana in the trunk, according to court records. 
Yang was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and no drug tax stamp. She remained in jail Friday on $50,000 bail.
Investigators with the Lincoln/Lancaster Narcotics Task Force carried a search warrant into a home on the 2800 block of North Third Street on Friday, and they carried out a lot more.
They found more than 4 pounds of marijuana, nearly 3 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms, 3,604 oxycodone pills, 1,281 Alprazolam pills, 855 hits of LSD, 209 THC syringes, nearly $2,300 in cash and four firearms.
Gustav Rockey
The drugs had an estimated street value of about $125,000, Lincoln Police Officer Erin Spilker said Tuesday.
The seizure started just before 9 a.m., when investigators visited the home on a tip that someone was selling drugs out of it, she said.
They contacted three men: 22-year-old Gustav Rockey, his roommate and a 20-year-old visitor.
The visitor had an outstanding warrant — and THC wax in his wallet — and was arrested. Rockey and his roommate each turned over a glass pipe and bags of marijuana and were allowed to leave.
Investigators then applied for the search warrant and found the drugs, guns and cash in the home.
They found Rockey three days later near First Street and Cornhusker Highway and arrested him on three counts of suspicion of possession of drugs with intent to deliver, possession of money while violating a drug law and possession of a firearm with a drug law violation.
They’re still searching for others who live in the house, Spilker said.
Lancaster County sheriff’s deputies seized more than $118,000 in suspected drug money and nearly 20 grams of marijuana in a traffic stop in June 2014. The driver of the vehicle, Jeffrey Hare, and passenger David L. Gregory, both of Charlotte, were believed to be driving to California to purchase drugs. 
Lancaster County deputies found 100 pounds of marijuana in large hockey bags during a traffic stop on Interstate 80 near the U.S. 77 exit in April 2018. Two Florida women were arrested.
Deputies found nearly 100 pounds of marijuana in heat-sealed vacuum bags when they pulled over Noah Vang, 29, of Appleton, Wisconsin, in September 2016. Vang pleaded guilty to attempted delivery of marijuana and was sentenced to nearly two years of prison time. 
A father and son were arrested Thursday by the Lancaster County Narcotics Unit after investigators found 6.8 pounds of cocaine, a pound of marijuana and almost $4,000 in cash at an apartment complex near Capitol Beach.
Russell Rucks Sr.
Russell Rucks Jr.
Police arrested Russell Rucks Sr., 50, and Russell Rucks Jr., 28, on suspicion of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and money during a drug violation.
Officer Erin Spilker said the Lincoln/Lancaster County Narcotics Task Force served a search warrant at the apartment where both live at 500 Surfside Drive as part of an ongoing drug investigation.
Investigators had been looking for the elder Rucks and ended up arresting both men prior to the warrant being served. Spilker said Rucks Sr. had 8.9 grams of cocaine and over $1,600 cash in his pocket.
She said the search at the apartment turned up drugs throughout the apartment they shared. 
On July 16, 2019, a Lancaster County Sheriff’s deputy stopped Jose Vazquez Rios, 42, on Interstate 80 near the U.S. 77 exit for driving too close to the car in front of him, asked for permission to search and found 22½ pounds of meth in a hidden compartment.
Investigators found three adults inside the Roca residence, including the tenant, 56-year-old Timothy Moore. Along with the trio, police found 329.7 grams of meth, 224.3 grams of marijuana, more than $11,000 in cash and more than 25 assorted pills on June 29, 2021.
Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.
On Twitter @LJSpilger

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Public safety reporter
Lori Pilger is a Norfolk native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been a public safety reporter for the Journal Star since 2005.
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