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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seven Plead Guilty To Drug Charges In E. Idaho Trafficking Operations

POCATELLO – U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today that seven defendants pleaded guilty to methamphetamine distribution charges this week in United States District Court in Pocatello. The defendants were charged in two separate indictments.

Juan Carlos Garcia, 35, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine. Co-defendant Benito Vasquez Joya, 58, of Rigby Idaho, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine.

Fausto Enrique Urias, 32, and Erica Rodriguez, 33, both of Idaho Falls, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine. Misty Chapman, 29, of Idaho Falls, pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine.

Garcia, Joya, Urias, Chapman and Rodriguez are scheduled to be sentenced on October 23, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.

According to plea agreements filed in the case, between November 2009 and October 23, 2012, Urias and Garcia conspired to possess and distribute methamphetamine to other individuals in the Idaho Falls area. According to court documents, Urias and Garcia were previously convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance in Bonneville County, Idaho, on November 9, 2004, and June 7, 2005, respectively.

Co-conspirator Marco Antonio Echeverria, 25, of Idaho Falls, is scheduled to enter a guilty plea to related drug charges on August 29, 2013.

In a separate case, Josue Rodriguez-Sanchez, 25, and Julian Vega-Valdez, 25, both of Idaho Falls, pleaded guilty on Wednesday. Rodriguez-Sanchez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine; Vega-Valdez pleaded guilty to distribution of five grams or more of actual methamphetamine. Sentencing is set for November 18, 2013, in Pocatello. Co-defendant Fernando Garcia, 31, of Logan, Utah, is scheduled to plead guilty on August 29, 2013.

The charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine carries a minimum term of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10 million, and at least five years of supervised release. Where Urias and Garcia were previously convicted of felony drug offenses, however, they face a mandatory minimum terms of 20 years, fines of up to $20 million, and at least ten years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute 50 grams of more of actual methamphetamine. Possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of actual methamphetamine carries a minimum term of five years in prison, a fine of up to $5 million, and at least four years of supervised release. Distribution of an undetermined amount of methamphetamine is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million, and at least three years of supervised release.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), including the Idaho State Police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Bonneville County Sheriff's Office, Idaho Falls Police Department, Madison County Sheriff's Office, Rexburg Police Department, Bingham County Sheriff’s Office, Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Other federal agencies participating in the OCDETF program include the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.