Heroin supplier tied to El Chapo recruits dealer while in jail

Jesus Mendez-Lopez admitted to recruiting as part of a plea deal


Julie McMahon
Syracuse Media Group

ONIEDA COUNTY, NY — Jail didn’t stop Jesus Mendez-Lopez from trying to sell drugs in Upstate New York.

The fentanyl and heroin supplier, who the DEA previously linked to the El Chapo empire, found a recruit in the Oneida County Jail as he awaited the outcome of his federal case, court records say.

Jesus Mendez-Lopez is currently jailed on charges that he shipped enough heroin and fentanyl to Syracuse to kill a Carrier Dome full of people. (Photo/DEA)
Jesus Mendez-Lopez is currently jailed on charges that he shipped enough heroin and fentanyl to Syracuse to kill a Carrier Dome full of people. (Photo/DEA)

Mendez-Lopez admitted to recruiting the Utica man as part of his plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin mixed with fentanyl in court earlier this month. He now faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison on charges that he shipped enough heroin and fentanyl to Syracuse to kill a Carrier Dome full of people.

Investigators have said Mendez-Lopez was the link from New York City to Syracuse in a chain that started in Mexico with the Sinaloa Cartel.

Court records tell the story of how Mendez-Lopez didn’t stop working when the DEA busted him and 11 other men in Syracuse earlier this year.

Mendez-Lopez, a 32-year-old from the Dominican Republic who was living in the Bronx, was arrested near Syracuse in February 2019. Police stopped him as he was transporting 20,000 doses of fentanyl-heroin Upstate, court records said.

While Mendez-Lopez was awaiting the outcome of his case, he was held at the Oneida County Jail, where he befriended another inmate, Carlos Silvagnoli of Utica, court papers said. Silvagnoli was in jail on misdemeanor charges at the time, prosecutors said.

While in jail together, Mendez-Lopez and Silvagnoli concocted a scheme to pay off Mendez-Lopez’s drug debts, according to the court papers.

Mendez-Lopez gave Silvagnoli the phone number of a supplier in the Bronx. The two planned for Silvagnoli to set up a meeting with the supplier, and begin selling the drugs in the Utica area, prosecutors say.

When Silvagnoli got out of jail, he carried out his end of the plan -- almost.

He admitted in court that he traveled to the Bronx, and acquired a shoebox full of heroin-fentanyl through Mendez-Lopez’s supplier. The shoebox had 300 grams of heroin-fentanyl plus 10 “bricks” -- slang for 100 individually packaged doses, court papers said.

Silvagnoli later admitted he arranged to take the drugs “on consignment," with the promise that he’d be back with $14,000 once they were sold. The Bronx supplier promised Silvagnoli a kilogram of fentanyl-heroin if he could sell off the shoebox worth of drugs first.

Law enforcement, just like with Mendez-Lopez, foiled the plans when they stopped a car traveling north with drugs in it.

Police pulled over Silvagnoli in Herkimer County as he was headed back to Utica. Investigators seized the drugs and arrested Silvagnoli on federal charges, court papers said.

Silvagnoli faces a minimum of five years and up to 40 years in prison.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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