News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California

Methamphetamine Cook Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 20, 2013
 

www.usdoj.gov/usao/cae

usacae.edcapress@usdoj.gov

 

Docket #: 2:08-cr-570 GEB

 

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Manuel Aguilar-Godinez, 38, of Lodi, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison by United States District Judge Garland E. Burrell, Jr. for conspiring to possess pseudoephedrine, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Pseudoephedrine is a precursor chemical used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

According to court documents and witness testimony, Aguilar-Godinez ran a large-scale methamphetamine lab on Doster Road in Calaveras County. The lab was capable of producing up to 20 pounds of pure methamphetamine every 24 to 48 hours. Aguilar-Godinez, a twice-deported undocumented alien, also owned and ran a clothing store in Lodi, “La Michoacana Western Wear.” Aguilar-Godinez and others were involved in the purchase of 34 pounds of pseudoephedrine in the Los Angeles area on February 20, 2008. He was later arrested on September 11, 2008, in Lodi. At the time of his arrest, investigators found documents and evidence tying him to the methamphetamine lab in Calaveras County and the earlier pseudoephedrine deal in Los Angeles.

After a two-day evidentiary hearing, Judge Burrell found that Aguilar-Godinez was “involved in both the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine,” and that he “threatened the use of firearms to carry out his drug distribution business.” Investigators found two rifles, including an SKS assault rifle, high-capacity magazines, and a .40-caliber pistol at or near the lab. The court heard testimony from a witness who said that Aguilar-Godinez hired at least six men to hunt him down over a drug debt. When they found the debtor, Aguilar-Godinez said, “If you run, I have you shot where you stand.” Another witness corroborated much of the debtor’s story, testifying that he was called to the scene to pay the debt. Judge Burrell found that “the defendant was the leader and organizer” of a large-scale drug manufacturing and distribution operation. Five men were arrested near the remote lab site when it was seized in 2008.

Aguilar-Godinez is one of 51 defendants charged in nine related indictments that stem from a 13-month federal investigation with connections to six different states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Alaska, Georgia, and California. Drugs seizures occurred in California, Alaska, Illinois, and Georgia. Aguilar-Godinez ran one of the four drug rings federal and state investigators dismantled in August 2008.

As a result of this investigation, agents seized more than 15 firearms, six marijuana grow houses (approximately 300 to 1,300 plants per house), 13,000 MDMA (Ecstasy) pills, and more than 27 pounds of methamphetamine in solution at the lab site. Investigators seized approximately $890,000 in alleged criminal assets over the course of the investigation.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Amador County Sheriff’s Office; the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office; the Lodi Police Department; the Central Valley HIDTA; Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department; Sacramento Police Department; California Department of Justice (Cal-MMET); the Milwaukee HIDTA; Illinois State Police; Anchorage Police Department; Nevada County Sheriff’s Department; Yuba/Sutter County Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET-5); Placer County Sheriff’s Department; and the Los Angeles HIDTA. The U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and the U.S. Marshal’s Service were instrumental in apprehending one defendant in Mexico and bringing him to California to face federal charges. Assistant United States Attorney Michael M. Beckwith is prosecuting the case.

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