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Former Arizona Mayoral Candidate And Sonoran Councilman Pleads Guilty To Drug Smuggling

A former Nogales, Arizona, mayoral candidate and Sonoran city councilman has pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges.

As a part of the late January deal, Ramon Alberto “Beto” Fuentes admitted to helping bring sizable quantities of cocaine and heroin into the United States from Mexico in 2017. He faces a prison sentence of “not less than 10 years” for each of two counts, according to the plea document. The deal was first reported by the Nogales International.

In September 2017, Fuentes was found with more than seven pounds of heroin while driving through the Nogales Mariposa Port of Entry, according to one of two counts he pleaded guilty to. Between January and October 2017, he “knowingly ... conspired” to smuggle cocaine into the United States, according to the second count.

Fuentes told KJZZ that he’s waiting for advice from his attorney before commenting on the case, but said that he continues in his role as the legislative adviser for Sonoran State Deputy Leticia Calderón of the PES Party. PES was a part of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s coalition that swept state and national races in 2018.

Fuentes ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Nogales, Arizona, in 2014, and previously served as a councilman in Nogales, Sonora, in the early 2000s. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 13, according to court records. 

Murphy Woodhouse was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.