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Press Release

Iowa Man to Federal Prison for Methamphetamine and Immigration

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

A man who conspired to distribute methamphetamine, who also distributed methamphetamine, and was illegally in the United States was sentenced in federal court in Sioux City, Iowa on March 23, 2023, to 11 ½ years in prison. 

Jose Duenas-Topete, 29, from Hawarden, Iowa, pled guilty on October 12, 2022, to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of distributing methamphetamine, and one count of illegal reentry.

At the plea and sentencing hearings, the evidence showed that from January 2020 to April 2, 2022, as part of the conspiracy, Topete distributed at least 45 kilograms of methamphetamine in the Sioux City, Iowa area. On April 2, 2022, law enforcement conducted a controlled drug buy/bust operation from Topete and his co-conspirators.  Agents observed Topete receive 10 pounds of methamphetamine, in exchange for an initial payment of $5000, from a transporter from Arkansas, sent by Mexico-based sources, at Topete’s request. Topete then transferred the majority of the methamphetamine to an informant working with agents. Thereafter, agents conducted traffic stops of the vehicles involved and seized from the various participants the 10 pounds of meth and the $5000 in buy money supplied by the agents. Topete later admitted he had previously received four shipments containing 5-6 pounds each of methamphetamine from sources in Mexico to distribute to persons in Sioux City and the surrounding area. Evidence further showed that Topete is a native and citizen of Mexico, illegally in the United States and was subject to six previous removals from the United States.

Sentencing was held before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Duenas-Topete was sentenced to 138 months’ imprisonment and a 5-year term of supervised release following imprisonment.  There is no parole in the federal system.  Duenas-Topete remains in U.S. Marshal custody pending transport to a federal prison. 

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn S. Wehde 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 22-4026. 

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Updated March 31, 2023

Drug Trafficking