Illegal immigrant mother ran transnational drug operation, passed family business off to fugitive son, feds say

The son of an illegal immigrant mother of nine serving more than 17 years in federal prison for running a transnational drug smuggling ring remains a fugitive as authorities released documents about their investigation into the crime family.

Celia Ruiz-Ochoa was 18 when she and her 2-year-old son Sergio crossed the U.S. border in California illegally. The struggling mother began selling drugs to make ends meet and eventually became the head of an international drug trafficking ring that helped fuel the opioid crisis in Ohio, WCPO-TV reported Thursday.

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Ruiz-Ochoa handed her business over to her son Sergio in 2016. Sergio Ruiz is still on the run from the law as his mother sits in prison, assistant special agent Mauricio Jimenez told WCPO-TV.

“The Mexican transnational criminal organizations are the biggest threat to the United States,” Jimenez told the station.

Ruiz-Ochoa ran the drug operation out of her home in Dayton. She aligned herself with family members and close friends and had drugs trafficked into the U.S. through planes, mail, couriers, and vehicles, according to federal authorities.

It’s possible the family handled about $1 million in drugs per week, the station reported, citing documents.

Some couriers told DEA agents they ingested 500 grams of heroin or fentanyl, passed them to give to buyers in Dayton, the station reported. One of the couriers reportedly said they ingested lethal doses of fentanyl several times to give to the Ruiz crime family.

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Evidence gathered against the Ruiz family helped convicted Ruiz-Ochoa and her daughter Lizbeth. Ruiz-Ochoa is set to be released in 2023 while Lizbeth could be released in 2021, WCPO-TV reported.