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Press Release

California Women Plead Guilty to Iowa Meth Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Payce and Romo were involved in a conspiracy to bring meth from Nevada and California and distribute it in Iowa.

Two women who conspired to distribute methamphetamine pled guilty on June 16, 2023, in federal court in Sioux City.

Lauretta Payce, 61, from Fontana, California, and Andrea Romo, 41, from Gardena, California, were convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

At the plea hearings, each admitted their involvement in a conspiracy that distributed at least 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine from December 2019 through May 2022.  Payce and Romo further admitted to assisting at least six others in the conspiracy by distributing roughly four pounds of methamphetamine and one pound of marijuana from California and Nevada and transporting the drugs, in a hidden vehicle compartment to Cherokee, Iowa, for further distribution. 

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after presentence reports are prepared.  Payce and Romo were each taken into the custody of the United States Marshal and will remain in custody pending sentencing.  Each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a $10,000,000 fine, and at least five years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn S. Wehde and was investigated by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program of the United States Department of Justice through a cooperative effort of the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, United States Postal Inspectors, Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Iowa DCI Laboratory, and Cherokee Police Department. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 22-4066.  Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

Updated June 23, 2023

Drug Trafficking