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Press Release

Head of Multinational Drug Organization Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

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

A man responsible for distributing hundreds of pounds of ice methamphetamine was sentenced today to a life sentence in federal prison.

Jose Maria Valencia, age 44, from La Ruana, Michoacán, Mexico, received the prison term after a February 6, 2018, guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute at least 500 grams of methamphetamine by a drug felon.

In 2013, Valencia was sent to California state prison after being convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.  Despite his incarceration, Valencia continued to run his drug organization.  Using contraband items such as cell phones, Valencia arranged to import methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States.  Once the methamphetamine arrived in the United States, it would be transported to various locations, including Iowa, typically concealed in vehicles.  Defendant was responsible for recruiting, managing, and supervising individuals in the organization.  During the course of the conspiracy, defendant was responsible for distributing at least 250 pounds of ice methamphetamine.     

Valencia was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade.  Valencia was sentenced to life imprisonment.  There is no parole in the federal system.

“Valencia continued to push hundreds of pounds of deadly methamphetamine into our community despite being incarcerated in California for conspiracy to commit murder,” said U.S. Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr.  “This case is a reminder that we must always remain vigilant in our effort fight back against national and international drug trafficking organizations.”

Valencia is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be returned to state custody in California.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lisa C. Williams 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 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA; the Linn County Sheriff's Office; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Marion Police Department; the Iowa City Police Department; and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement; the Mid-Iowa Task Force, comprised of the Marshalltown Police Department, Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, Tama County Sheriff’s Office, Grundy County Sheriff’s Office, Hardin County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa Falls Police Department, Eldora Police Department and the Dysart Police Department; and the Tri-County Drug Task Force, comprised of the Waterloo Police Department, Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, Cedar Falls Police Department, LaPorte City Police Department, Hudson Police Department, Evansdale Police Department, University of Northern Iowa Police Department, Waverly Police Department and the Bremer County Sheriff’s Office. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 17-cr-2041.

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Updated September 4, 2018

Drug Trafficking