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Press Release

Mexican National Sentenced to 30 Years for Conspiring to Distribute Methamphetamine

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Elias Hernandez-Valencia, 48, Mexican national residing in Madera, was sentenced Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, to 30 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between May 22, 2018, and August 8, 2018, Hernandez-Valencia and others were part of a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. As part of this conspiracy, Hernandez-Valencia directed deliveries of methamphetamine to others within the drug trafficking organization (DTO) and remitting the proceeds from the drug sales to the head of the DTO, a person known as “Tio” (or “Uncle”). Hernandez-Valencia also supervised a methamphetamine conversion laboratory in his home, converting liquid methamphetamine to crystal methamphetamine, generating product for the DTO to sell. Agents executed a search warrant at Hernandez-Valencia’s residence on August 8, 2018, and seized approximately 1 kilogram of cocaine, 1 kilogram of heroin, and over 8 kilograms of methamphetamine (including roughly half a gallon of liquid methamphetamine). In Hernandez-Valencia’s bedroom closet, where agents found the heroin, they also found seven assault rifles and a handgun. This is Hernandez-Valencia’s second federal felony drug trafficking conviction in the Eastern District of California; he was previously convicted and sentenced for conspiracy to distribute heroin in 2006.

Hernandez-Valencia is one of several defendants to plead guilty and be sentenced in this case, including Jose Pantoja-Estrada, Luis Rios-Garcia, Georgina Carrillo-Ayala, Roberto Mercado‑Rangel, Kelley Hughes, Bart Hughes, and Jerry Foster. Filiberto Madrigal has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Madera County Narcotics Enforcement Team (MADNET), and the Fresno High Impact Investigation Team (HIIT). Assistant U.S. Attorney James R. Conolly is prosecuting the case.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. For more information about Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, please visit

Updated January 24, 2024

Drug Trafficking