U.S. District Judge Michael Simon last week sentenced Charly Aguayo-Caro to 12 years in prison for his role in distributing heroin that resulted in the death of Milwaukie resident Michael Rael.

Aguayo-Caro, 24, of Mexico, was responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of an active heroin distribution business that accepted telephone orders from customers and employed couriers to distribute the heroin throughout the Portland metro area from 2008 until 2012.

Rael, 23, was found dead from a heroin overdose near his residence on Sept. 10, 2012. Rael had recently moved to Oregon from New Mexico to pursue higher-education and full-time employment. Following Rael's death, Clackamas County Interagency Task Force officers specializing in overdose investigations were able to trace the ingested heroin to the drug-trafficking organization managed by Aguayo-Caro. On Sept. 18, 2012, investigators arrested Aguayo-Caro in Wilsonville, where he was returning from California.

by: FILE PHOTO - Aguayo-CaroAt sentencing, Simon acknowledged the "national emergency" that communities are facing from heroin overdoses. Simon referenced U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's recent statement about the "urgent and growing public crisis" heroin is having in communities across the country where heroin overdose deaths have increased 45 percent nationally between 2006 and 2010. U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall echoed Simon and Holder by affirming her commitment to prosecuting drug trafficking organizations that are responsible for saturating the Portland market with heroin that led to the overdose deaths of 147 Oregonians in 2012.

"We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to actively dismantle these drug-trafficking organizations that are responsible for the devastating effects of heroin in our communities," she said.

This case was prosecuted under the "Len Bias" sentencing enhancement, which increases mandatory sentences for individuals and organizations that distribute heroin that ultimately results in an overdose death.

The federal charges stem from an investigation led by state and federal law enforcement agencies including the Clackamas County Inter-Agency Task and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office.

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