News and Press Releases

Legal U.S. Resident was Key Smuggling Link in 20 Kilo Meth Delivery

September 7, 2010

JOSE CORTEZ-MUNOZ, 31, of Anaheim, California, was sentenced last week to ten years in prison and five years of supervised release for distribution of methamphetamine. CORTEZ-MUNOZ was a key player in a scheme to smuggle 20 kilos of highly pure methamphetamine, known as “Ice,” from California into Canada. CORTEZ-MUNOZ was a citizen of Mexico, legally residing in the U.S. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez noted that, “This is a very serious offense involving an amount of highly pure methamphetamine that easily would have sold on the street for over one million dollars.”

According to records filed in the case, in mid-December 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at Blaine, Washington, were alerted to a Canadian citizen who had crossed the border with other known drug smugglers. When the man made a trip south, agents observed him meet with CORTEZ-MUNOZ on two different occasions. On the second trip, the two men drove down I-5 in separate vehicles. The Canadian pulled off the freeway and parked, while CORTEZ-MUNOZ continued on the exit until he met up with a semi-truck driven by another conspirator. The driver gave CORTEZ-MUNOZ the 20 kilos of methamphetamine he had transported from California. The meth was 98.3% pure, with an approximate street value of $1.3 million. When CORTEZ-MUNOZ returned to the location where the Canadian had parked, the men were arrested. The two men in the semi-truck were arrested as well.

In asking for a significant prison term, Assistant United States Attorney Lisca Borichewski noted that CORTEZ-MUNOZ was more than a low level drug courier. “CORTEZ-MUNOZ did not transport the methamphetamine himself, and instead, he organized the exchange between the United States courier and the Canadian courier.... CORTEZ-MUNOZ was in the unique position of knowing participants on both sides of the drug transaction,” Ms. Borichewski wrote in her sentencing memo.

“This sentence should serve as a deterrent to drug traffickers who are motivated by greed and engage in this type of criminal activity,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle. “We will continue to aggressively investigate this type of crime in an effort to keep drugs out of our communities and off our streets.”

The case was investigated by U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lisca Borichewski.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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