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Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 168 Months in Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2013

EUGENE, Ore. – Juan Jesus Chavez-Salazar, 26, of Lane County, Oregon, was sentenced today by Chief District Judge Ann Aiken to 168 months in prison for conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine.  Upon his release from prison, defendant will be on supervised release for five years.

Defendant and his associates were the target 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 defendant.  A stash house in Springfield, Oregon was identified, and it appeared that the residence was being used to receive and store drugs. After significant investigation and surveillance, law enforcement identified vehicles which regularly appeared at the stash house and they attempted to locate and stop one of the vehicles.

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 dash.

Two days later, on March 30, 2011, Octavio Mendoza-Diaz and Marlo Gonzalez-Meza arrived at the stash house.  They had not previously been seen during this investigation and law enforcement suspected that they were transporting methamphetamine to the stash house.

On March 31, 2011, Gonzalez-Meza was stopped after he left the stash house.  His vehicle was searched and $20,000 was located in a hidden compartment.  Mendoza-Diaz was stopped in a separate vehicle and a drug dog alerted to his dash board which showed signs of having been removed and replaced.  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, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Interagency Narcotics Team and the Oregon State Police, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sweet.

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