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Press Release

Cedar Rapids Man Who Attempted to Receive 30 Pounds of Methamphetamine Sentenced to More Than 14 Years in Federal Prison

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

A man who retrieved a vehicle that had contained approximately 30 pounds of ice methamphetamine in a hidden compartment was sentenced July 28, 2023, to more than 14 years in federal prison.

Christopher Eric Curley, age 30, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a January 20, 2023 guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

Evidence at prior hearings and information presented at sentencing showed that in October 2020 investigators with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New Mexico seized approximately 30 pounds of ice methamphetamine from a hidden compartment in a vehicle being shipped to Curley in Iowa.  Investigators removed the methamphetamine from the compartment and replaced it with a simulated substance, then re‑loaded the vehicle onto the car hauler and sent it to Iowa.  When the vehicle arrived in Cedar Rapids, Curley received delivery of it.  He attempted to open the hidden compartment electronically, but it did not open.   Curley then pulled down the back seat and pulled the purported methamphetamine out of the compartment.  Upon examining some of the packages inside the compartment Curley realized that they did not actually contain methamphetamine.  He then threw the vehicle’s keys through the driver’s side window of the vehicle and walked away.

In late 2021 and 2022, Curley was still selling methamphetamine in eastern Iowa.  During a wiretap investigation into a group of methamphetamine dealers in the Cedar Rapids area led by David Belton, Curley was intercepted discussing purchasing pounds of methamphetamine from the group, and also supplying pounds of methamphetamine to the group when they ran out of supply.          

Eleven other individuals were charged in the same investigation as Curley.  David Poitier Belton, Derek Michael Mims, Phillip Lanell Rogers, Robert Lee Michael Bates, Anton Tarrice Whitney, Jr., Elmer Mims, and Timothy Michael Webber are all awaiting sentencing.  Kiyonte Levell Sowell was sentenced to 144 months’ imprisonment.  Albert Henry Bailey was sentenced to 88 months’ imprisonment.  Jesus Vera was sentenced to 151 months’ imprisonment.  Calub Joseph Storlie was sentenced to 200 months’ imprisonment.

Curley was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Curley was sentenced to 175 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a 5-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

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

The case 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 the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the DEA Task Force in Cedar Rapids and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The DEA Task Force in Cedar Rapids consists of the DEA, the Linn County Sheriff's Office, the Cedar Rapids Police Department, the Marion Police Department, and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham.

Court file information at

The case file number is 22‑CR‑39‑CJW‑MAR.

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Updated August 4, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses