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Press Release

Sioux City Man Pleads Guilty in Federal Court for Meth and Firearm Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Two-time previously convicted drug felon attempted to flee law enforcement in vehicle and on foot with meth in his vehicle

A man who conspired to distribute methamphetamine and possessed a firearm during his drug trafficking pled guilty May 19, 2021, in federal court in Sioux City.

Jerry Powell, 32, from Sioux City, Iowa, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, one count of illegal possession of a firearm, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. Powell was previously convicted of two felony drug offenses, namely, felony possession of a controlled substance in South Dakota in 2007, and felony possession of a controlled substance – 3rd offense in Iowa in 2018.

At the plea hearing, Powell admitted that between 2016 through about December 17, 2020, he and others conspired to distribute 50 grams or more of actual (pure) methamphetamine in the Sioux City area.  On December 17, 2020, in Sioux City, Iowa, law enforcement caught Powell attempting to flee a legal traffic stop, at first by vehicle, including at speeds in excess of 100 mph on city streets, then after crashing the vehicle, on foot.  Law enforcement observed Powell, while running, possess and then throw a handgun (later determined to be a loaded .357 magnum revolver) away during his attempted flight.  Law enforcement later seized the firearm and six ounces of methamphetamine from the vehicle operated by Powell.  Powell admitted he had acquired the methamphetamine from a source and possessed it with the intent to distribute some or all of it to another person or persons.  Powell also admitted he was prohibited from the possession of the firearm due to being a previously convicted felon.

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Powell was previously in the custody of the United States Marshals Service and after the guilty plea will remain in custody pending sentencing.  On all of the convictions, Powell faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a $10,000,000 fine, and at least 5 years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see /media/1122011/download?inline.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn S. Wehde and was investigated by the Sioux City Police Department and 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 21-4005.  Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

Updated May 20, 2021

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses