Five Plead Guilty In Methamphetamine Conspiracy
Tampa, FL - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that Jeremias Valdez (27, Dade City), Fernando Obregon-Acosta (33, Jonesboro, AK), and Antonio Mendoza-Contreras (44, Aurora, IL) pled guilty yesterday to conspiring with others to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five-hundred (500) grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. Two others, Maria Lynne Pascarelli (21, Brooksville) and Carlos Manzo-Mejia (36, Aurora, IL) previously pled guilty to the same charge. Each of the individuals, with the exception of Mendoza-Contreras, faces a mandatory minimum term of ten years’ imprisonment, up to a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. Due to his prior criminal history, Mendoza-Contreras faces a mandatory minimum term of twenty years’ imprisonment, up to a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
According to the plea agreements, on February 16, 2012, Mendoza-Contreras, Manzo-Mejia, and Obregon-Acosta received more than fourteen pounds of methamphetamine in a parking lot, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. They took the drugs to Obregon-Acosta’s residence.
On February 22, 2012, Pascarelli and Valdez drove a rental van from Hernando County, Florida to Arkansas, to pick up twelve pounds of methamphetamine from Mendoza, Manzo, and Obregon, and bring the drugs back to the Middle District of Florida for distribution.
On February 23, 2012, in Arkansas, Pascarelli and Valdez picked up the twelve pounds of methamphetamine from Obregon and Mendoza. While attempting to transport the drugs to Florida, they were stopped by on Interstate 55 by the Arkansas State Police. During a consent search of their rental van, officers located and seized the twelve pounds of methamphetamine, valued at $240,000. On the same day, law enforcement officers also stopped a vehicle occupied by Manzo and Mendoza in Arkansas. Manzo and Mendoza were on their way to Florida to assist with the distribution of the methamphetamine.
Following the arrests of Pascarelli, Valdez, Manzo, and Mendoza, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Obregon’s residence. They located and seized, in Obregon’s presence, an additional pound of methamphetamine.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office as part of an on-going Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher F. Murray.