Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Dylan Dewane Waters, 21, pleaded guilty to transportation of a narcotic drug for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia. The plea is in response to an undercover DPS operation that netted 1,000 fentanyl pills and nearly two ounces of heroin.
Dylan Waters set to be sentenced May 18
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – A Duncan man has accepted responsibility for his role in a fentanyl smuggling group that brought fentanyl pills and heroin into the Gila Valley, however, the judge has yet to accept the plea.
Dylan Dewane Waters, 21, pleaded guilty on April 20 to transportation of a narcotic drug for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia. However, Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Peterson deferred acceptance of the plea until Waters’ sentencing date of May 18.
According to the plea agreement, Waters faces up to five years in prison but probation is also available with the decision being up to the judge.
Waters was one piece of an undercover Arizona Department of Public Safety operation.
The operation included multiple purchases of hundreds of blue, 30-mg fentanyl pills by an undercover detective and the seizure of 1,000 fentanyl pills and roughly two ounces of heroin after a car driven by two of the suspects was pulled over for speeding upon returning from Phoenix with the drugs.
Aaron Sean Maddock, 24, and Waters were located in the vehicle and were both arrested on Feb. 17 and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges of possession of a narcotic drug, possession of a narcotic drug for sale, and transportation of a narcotic drug for sale. The following day, co-conspirator Randon Micah Raymond Ray, 30, of Safford, was arrested and booked into jail on charges of possession of a narcotic drug, possession of a narcotic drug for sale, and transportation of a narcotic drug for sale.
According to DPS reports, an undercover operative made multiple purchases of fentanyl pills from Maddock throughout the beginning of February. On Feb. 4, the operative purchased 200 pills from Maddock for $1,500; on Feb. 8, the operative again purchased 200 fentanyl pills from Maddock for $1,500; and on Feb. 11, the operative purchased 400 fentanyl pills from Maddock for $3,000, with the promise of an extra 100 pills later. On Feb. 17, the operative arranged another buy for $3,000 and was supposed to receive 600 pills, which included the 100 pills already owed. The investigation revealed that Maddock had been working with Ray involving dealing with the pills.
As investigators awaited the suspects’ vehicle to return to the Gila Valley, it was spotted going 63 mph in a 45-mph-zone on Feb. 17, at about 9:10 p.m. After the vehicle was pulled over, detectives arrived and located a black box under the hood of the vehicle that contained 1,000 blue, 30-mg fentanyl pills (101.9 grams) and 50.9 grams of heroin. Maddock was found driving the car, and Waters was a passenger. Waters later allegedly admitted to having placed some money for a quantity of the pills they were bringing back to Safford and his role in the drug ring.
On Feb. 18, Ray was interviewed and allegedly admitted to his role and said he had been dealing heroin since he was laid off in April 2020. Ray said he began with heroin but started getting more fentanyl pills due to their popularity. He advised he normally bought two ounces of heroin and 700 fentanyl pills every three or four days from a Mexican National in Phoenix. He advised that he buys the pills for $3 each and sells them for $10 per pill or $6 per pill wholesale. On Feb. 17, he sent $3,400 with Maddock for him to pick up 800 pills and two ounces of heroin from his connection in Phoenix. The extra 200 pills found were purchased by Maddock and Waters, according to detectives.
Ray also allegedly advised selling wholesale to Maddock and other dealers in the area. He said Maddock began by just buying pills from him but that they had since formed a type of business partnership. Ray also allegedly admitted to using himself and said he takes two to three hits off a pill each day.
Maddock has 16 counts against him and a change of plea hearing has been set for his case. Ray is facing one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and four counts of conspiracy to transport a narcotic drug for sale.