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Lane County Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 168 Months in Prison

JULY 26 (EUGENE, Ore.) -  Juan Jesus Chavez-Salazar, 26, of Lane County, Oregon, was sentenced on July 23, 2013, to 168 months in prison for conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine.  Upon his release from prison, he will be placed on supervised release for five years.

Chavez-Salazar and his associates were the targets of a long-term federal and state drug investigation.  Beginning in June 2010, law enforcement conducted multiple purchases of methamphetamine from an individual who was acting as a courier for Chavez-Salazar. A stash house in Springfield, Oregon was identified to be utilized by the group to receive and store drugs.

On March 28, 2011, a vehicle driven by Rafael Soto-Mendoza was stopped near Roseburg, Oregon.  The vehicle, which had previously been observed at the stash house was searched.  Two pounds of methamphetamine and a loaded .45 caliber pistol were located in a hidden compartment in the dashboard.  On March 31, 2011, Marlo Gonzalez-Meza was stopped after he departed the stash house and law enforcement seized $20,000 from a hidden compartment inside his vehicle. Mendoza-Diaz was also stopped after he departed the stash house and a drug dog alerted to the dash board of his vehicle which appeared to have been tampered with.  Chavez-Salazar was driving a third vehicle with Uriel Hernandez-Naranjo as a passenger, and he rapidly drove away from officers when they tried to stop him. An agent searched the ground in the area where Chavez-Salazar had driven and located methamphetamine.

A search of the stash house revealed 263 grams of methamphetamine, $25,269 in currency, large amounts of wrapping material, a pistol and a shotgun with a sawed-off stock. The defendants were arrested and charged in federal court.

Several of Chavez-Salazar’s co-defendants have been convicted and sentenced as follows:

Rafael Soto-Mendoza was convicted of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine on May 22, 2012, and sentenced to 87 months in prison; Octavio Mendoza-Diaz was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and sentenced to 60 months in prison; and, Uriel Hernandez-Naranjo was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on October 16, 2012, and sentenced to 33 months in prison. Co-defendant Marlo-Gonzalez-Meza has pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and is set for sentencing.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Interagency Narcotics Team and the Oregon State Police.

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