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November 17, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee

Marco Antonio Rivera Convicted in Large Methamphetamine Conspiracy

Largest Methamphetamine Seizure In The District And One Of The Largest In The State

GREENEVILLE, Tenn - On Tuesday, November 15, 2011, in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Marco Antonio Rivera, 35, of Winston Salem, N.C., was sentenced by the Honorable Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Judge, to serve 288 months in prison for his role in leading and organizing a large scale methamphetamine conspiracy. Co-defendants Abel Martinez Tavera, 38, and Placido Ventura Mendoza, 31, of Winston Salem, N.C., and Elias Mazariegos Perez, 32, of Newport, Tenn., were previously sentenced to serve 186, 174 and 180 months respectively. One last co-defendant, Guadalupe Granado, 37, of Bybee, Tenn., is scheduled to be sentenced on December 6, 2011.

In March 2010, an undercover agent in the Greeneville, Tenn., area made several small methamphetamine purchases from Granado, before negotiating for a 10 to 20 pound transaction. In numerous recorded conversations introduced during the trial, Granado told the agent that he needed to coordinate with “his people” to obtain and deliver the methamphetamine. Rivera was Granado’s source of supply. In May 2010 agents conducted traffic stops on several vehicles in Hamblen County known to be involved in transporting and distributing the methamphetamine. Three of the vehicles were searched and agents discovered 10 pounds of methamphetamine, under roofing nails in the back bed of a pickup truck, and a 9 mm firearm in another vehicle. Rivera and Granado were directing the other participants on how to complete the transaction from a separate vehicle. Rivera, Tavera, Granado, Mendoza and Perez, were arrested. All were determined to be illegal aliens and, in fact, Rivera had been deported from the United States in 2008 following a conviction of being an accessory after the fact to voluntary manslaughter.

Law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation which led to indictment and subsequent conviction of Tavera included the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force Johnson City, assisted by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Third Judicial Drug Task Force, Fourth Judicial Drug Task Force, Morristown Police Department, Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office, Cocke County Sheriff’s Office, Johnson City Police Department, Elizabethton Police Department, Kingsport Police Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor represented the United States.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian stated, “ Our prosecutors and the federal and state law enforcement agencies working on this case did a great job of obtaining and presenting the evidence. The arrest and convictions in this case resulted in the elimination of massive quantities of methamphetamine being distributed in the Eastern District of Tennessee. I want to thank all those involved for bringing these individuals to justice.”

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