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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 20, 2019

California Man Responsible For Sending More Than 50 Pounds of Methamphetamine to Iowa Sentenced to Federal Prison

Sentenced to Over a Decade in Prison After Distributing Meth for Two Years

A man responsible for running a complex drug trafficking organization was sentenced May 17, 2019, to more than 14 years in federal prison.

Michael Pineda, age 34, from San Ysidro, California, received the prison term after an August 6, 2018, guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute at least 500 grams of methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit money laundering. 

Evidence during the case established that Pineda served as a source of ice methamphetamine for numerous individuals.  Pineda shipped the methamphetamine to Iowa from California, typically concealed in car stereo boxes.  Once the methamphetamine arrived in Iowa, Pineda relied on various individuals to pick it up, repackage it, distribute it, and later collect money from its sale. 

In order to conceal the money from the drug sales, Pineda directed others in the conspiracy, including his wife, to open bank accounts under fictitious business names.  He then instructed his drug customers to deposit drug proceeds into these bank accounts.  In less than two years, Pineda laundered more than $370,000 of drug money through these accounts.  He also instructed other individuals to cash from the sales to California.  One such individual was intercepted at the San Diego Airport carrying approximately $35,000 in drug proceeds.    

Pineda was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by Chief United States District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Pineda was sentenced to 175 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a five-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Pineda is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lisa C. Williams and was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program of the United States Department of Justice through a cooperative effort of Federal Bureau of Investigation, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, and the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Task Force (Waterloo Police Department; Cedar Falls Police Department; Waverly Police Department; Bremer County Sheriff’s Office; Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office; LaPorte City Police Department; Evansdale Police Department; Hudson Police Department). 

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

The case file number is 17-CR-2084.

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated May 20, 2019