Felon Indicted For Conspiring To Distribute Methamphetamine, Possessing A Firearm
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier this week in federal court, a 25-year-old man was indicted for conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams of the highly addictive and dangerous drug methamphetamine between 2009 and April 2011. On March 19, 2013, Jose Alfredo Varela-Meraz was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 or more grams of methamphetamine, one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 or more grams of methamphetamine, one count of using, carrying and possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug-trafficking crime, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of illegal re-entry after removal.
The indictment alleges that from the fall of 2009 through April 20, 2011, Varela-Meraz conspired with others to distribute 500 or more grams of methamphetamine. It also alleges that on March 25, 2010, Varela-Meraz possessed with intent to distribute 500 or more grams of methamphetamine, and possessed a 9-millimeter handgun. In addition, the indictment alleges that on February 28, 2013, Varela-Meraz was found in the U.S. illegally after having been previously deported to Mexico in 2012, following a New Mexico conviction for re-entry of a removed alien. According to a law enforcement affidavit filed in the case, on March 25, 2010, Varela-Meraz was observed meeting with another suspect under surveillance in a parked vehicle at a parking lot in Roseville. The vehicle was stopped in Minneapolis, and officers seized approximately 447 grams of methamphetamine under the carpeting by the front passenger seat where Varela-Meraz was sitting. In a subsequent search, police found 678 additional grams of methamphetamine and a nine-millimeter handgun hidden under the vehicle’s center console.
Because he is a felon, Varela-Meraz is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition at any time. His prior Arizona convictions include possession and use of drug paraphernalia.
If convicted, Varela-Meraz faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison on the conspiracy, possession with intent and carrying a firearm counts; and ten years on both the felon in possession and illegal re-entry counts. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.
This case is the result of an investigation by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, and the police departments of Maplewood, Minneapolis and Roseville. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas M. Hollenhorst.
To learn more about the harmful effects of methamphetamine, visit http://www.justice.gov/dea/pr/multimedia-library/publications/drug_of_abuse.pdf#page=48.
An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.