California Resident Sentenced To Serve Over 10 Years In Federal Prison For Methamphetamine Conspiracy
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On Aug. 17, 2016, Luis A. Rivera Gutierrez, 30, of Sylmar, Cal., was sentenced by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Court Judge, to serve 240 months in federal prison following a conviction for his leadership role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from California to Tennessee.
According to his plea agreement on file with U.S. District Court, Gutierrez admitted to engaging in a series of recorded telephone calls with an individual working on behalf of law enforcement (individual) during June and July 2015. In these recorded calls, Gutierrez agreed to send a multi-kilogram delivery of methamphetamine from California to east Tennessee. In July 2015, co-defendant Eudave-Castaneda, a.k.a. Seven, 27, of Lancaster, Cal., agreed to transport this multi-kilogram shipment of methamphetamine for Gutierrez and others to the individual in Tennessee. Eudave-Castaneda had made a previous delivery of methamphetamine for Gutierrez and others in May 2015. In a recorded call in July 2015, Gutierrez told the individual that Seven would be bringing 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine and the quantity would be doubled the next time. On his way to Morristown, Eudave-Castaneda stopped for the night in Roane County, Tenn. He gave consent to search his vehicle and law enforcement agents located approximately seven pounds of methamphetamine hidden in the rocker panels of the vehicle. Laboratory testing showed that the methamphetamine was 97.5 percent pure.
In subsequent communications, Gutierrez told the individual that he would personally deliver the methamphetamine next time and they negotiated a ten-pound transaction. In September 2015, Gutierrez told the individual that he was driving through Kansas and should arrive in a day or two. The individual, acting at the direction of law enforcement agents, sent Gutierrez an address in Newport, Tenn., to meet and discuss the payment for the methamphetamine. Gutierrez told the source that the methamphetamine was in another tractor trailer and would arrive separately.
Upon arriving in Newport, Gutierrez became lost and suspicious that he was being followed by law enforcement. As a result, he entered I-40 where a chase by numerous police vehicles, at approximately 100 mph in rainy conditions ensued for several miles before a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer caught up and pulled him over. While driving at such high speeds on I-40, Gutierrez tossed his cell phone out the window. After being placed under arrest, a search of his vehicle revealed a note with the address to the residence in Newport given by law enforcement agents. The following day a tractor trailer with a registration out of Sylmar, Cal., was stopped on I-40 westbound near Memphis, Tenn. A subsequent search of the trailer resulted in the seizure of well in over ten pounds of methamphetamine. Laboratory testing showed that the methamphetamine was 99.7 percent pure.
Gutierrez stipulated that between May and October 2015 he was accountable for the distribution of approximately 17 pounds of methamphetamine. After being taken to jail, he made a number of recorded phone calls to his wife in California telling her to destroy certain items in California.
Law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Cocke County Sheriff’s Office, and Morristown, Tennessee Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor represented the United States.