Jury Convicts in Drug Conspiracy Case
Assistant United States Attorney
US Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Viengxay Chantharath, age 51, a citizen of Laos who had recently been residing in Worthington, Minnesota, and Patricio Guzman-Ortiz, age 39, a Mexican citizen who had recently been residing in St. Cloud, Minnesota, were found guilty of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine after a four-day jury trial in United States District Court in Sioux Falls which began on October 25, 2011. Both men face up to life in prison.
The trial involved a long-running methamphetamine conspiracy spreading from Worthington through Sioux Falls, and up to the Aberdeen and St. Cloud areas. Seventeen people have been indicted in the matter. Two are still fugitives; two are scheduled for trial in December, and 11 have pled guilty.
Many law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation – the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Sioux Falls Police Department; Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office; Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force; SD Division of Criminal Investigation; Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; Stearns County, Minnesota, Sheriff’s Office; Benton County, Minnesota, Sheriff’s Office; St. Cloud, Minnesota, Police Department; and the Central Minnesota Drug & Gang Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Amy M. Koopmann and John E. Haak.
A presentence investigation was ordered, and a sentencing date was set for January 23, 2012. The defendants were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal pending sentencing.