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Press Release

California Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Meth by Mail

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

A California man, who conspired to distribute methamphetamine by mail pled guilty June 28, 2023, in federal court in Sioux City.  James Dean Sterner, age 65, from Tustin, California, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, which contained 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine.

In a plea agreement, Sterner admitted that from August 2019 to October 2019 he conspired to distribute methamphetamine in and around Sioux City, Iowa after receiving the meth via the mail from California.  In October 2019, law enforcement found a package mailed to a resident in Sioux City from Sterner containing approximately 319 grams of pure methamphetamine. 

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Sterner remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.  Sterner faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment, a $10,000,000 fine, and 5 years up to life of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ron Timmons and Mikala Purdy-Steenholdt, and was investigated by the Tri-State Drug Task Force based in Sioux City, Iowa, that consists of law enforcement personnel from the Drug Enforcement Administration; Sioux City, Iowa, Police Department; Homeland Security Investigations; Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office; South Sioux City, Nebraska, Police Department; Nebraska State Patrol; Iowa National Guard; Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement; United States Marshals Service; South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation; and Woodbury County Attorney’s Office.

Court file information at

The case file number is 20-4088.  Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

Updated July 11, 2023

Drug Trafficking