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FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment today against Mario Farias Pineda, 22, of Calistoga, charging him with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute it, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Pineda was driving northbound on California State Highway 99 when he was pulled over by Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies for talking on his cellphone. The deputies obtained permission to search his vehicle and found approximately 25 pounds of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment behind the rear passenger seat.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Frye is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Pineda faces a statutory penalty of at least 10 years and up to life in prison and a $10 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.