BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Heriverto Ramirez, 36, of Brownsville, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 1,741 grams of fentanyl on July 20 following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“This individual was convicted for mailing close to 500 grams of fentanyl, which clearly illustrates that criminals are more concerned about lining their pockets that the individuals they sell to,” said HSI San Antonio acting Deputy Special Agent in Charge Alfredo Ibanez. “HSI remains strongly committed to the fight against dealers of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs that continue to plague communities throughout South Texas.”

According to court documents, Ramirez packaged 494 grams of fentanyl for distribution to a trailer park in Houston using the U.S. Postal Service, concealing the dangerous narcotic in the shell of a tankless hot water heater. HSI searched Ramirez’s residence with a warrant and discovered an additional 1,247 grams of fentanyl and 8.48 kilograms of cocaine.

During a yearlong investigation, HSI learned Ramirez coordinated cocaine distribution from his home while also distributing cocaine and fentanyl through the U.S. Postal Service.

Sentencing has been set for Oct. 11. At that time, Ramirez faces up to life in federal prison. He remains in custody pending sentencing.

“This case is a perfect example of how fentanyl, a potent and deadly opioid, is overtaking every aspect of the illicit drug trade,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. “Experts consider a lethal dose of fentanyl to be 2 milligrams. Ramirez was caught mailing half a kilogram of fentanyl through the USPS, creating a potentially deadly hazard for anyone handling the package. Now he faces his own consequences.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Eyes for the Southern District of Texas is prosecuting the case.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.