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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 27, 2022

34 Meth Traffickers Sentenced to 360+ Years in Federal Prison

Thirty-four members of a methamphetamine ring that operated in the Dimmitt, Texas area have been sentenced to a combined 364 years in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.

The majority were charged in a 38-count federal indictment filed in February 2020, then arrested during a large-scale takedown in March 2020. The FBI’s Dallas Field Office, which led the bust, dubbed it Operation Tierra de Hielo, or “Operation Land of Ice.”  

The first defendant to plead guilty, Denita Mirelez, 48, entered her plea on August 19, 2020, admitting that she and a co-conspirator sold several ounces of meth to an FBI informant.  She was later sentenced to 97 months in federal prison. The final defendant to plead guilty, Johnny Gilbert Lopez, aka “Cannon,” 55, entered his plea 19 months later, on March 21, 2022. He also admitted that he sold meth to an informant and was sentenced yesterday to 100 months in federal prison.

The remaining defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced as follows:

  • Jesus Garcia, aka “Don Chuy,” 60
    Pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; sentenced on May 18, 2021 to 300 months in federal prison
     
  • Noel Mandujano, 50
    Pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on July 20, 2021 to 360 months in federal prison
     
  • Robert Vera, 51
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 20, 2021 to 188 months in federal prison
     
  • Osvaldo Cortez, aka “Lito,” 41
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on April 8, 2021 to 135 months in federal prison
     
  • Gustavo Rincon, aka “Tavo,” 45
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Feb. 17, 2021 to 210 months in federal prison
     
  • Ricky Dale Leavitt, aka “Big Rick,” 48
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on July 13, 2021 to 97 months in federal prison
     
  • Tyler Martin Miller, 32
    Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on July 7, 2021 to 120 months in federal prison
     
  • Robert “Roberto” Flores, 46
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on May 25, 2021 to 235 months in federal prison
     
  • Tiffany Darlene Haner, 38
    Pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm; sentenced on Jan. 20, 2021 to 120 months in federal prison
     
  • Michael “Mike” Diaz, 48
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on June 2, 2021 to 120 months in federal prison
     
  • Rigoberto Cuevas, aka “Rigo,” 43
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 26, 2021 to 188 months in federal prison
     
  • Johnny Ortiz, aka “Johnny O,” 44
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Feb. 4, 2021 to 240 months in federal prison
     
  • Kristina Renee Chaparro, aka “Yebra,” 36
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 28, 2021 to 132 months in federal prison
     
  • Michael Reyes, aka “Rat,” 44
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on May 11, 2021 to 120 months in federal prison
     
  • Juan Arturo Martinez, 44
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Feb. 4, 2021 to 52 months in federal prison
     
  • Steven Mendez, 39
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 28, 2021 to 210 months in federal prison
     
  • Frank “Frankie” Martinez, 39
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Nov. 19, 2021 to 139 months in federal prison
     
  • Katrina Casas, 37,
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 28. 2021 to 40 months in federal prison
     
  • Ricardo Reyes, Jr., aka “Little Ricky,” 35
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 14, 2021 to 124 months in federal prison
     
  • Roxanne Casas, 39
    Pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Feb. 4, 2021 to 51 months in federal prison
     
  • Cruz Mendez Nunez, 58
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on June 2, 2021 to 92 months in federal prison
     
  • Christopher Allen Smith, aka “Smitty,” 35
    Pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm; sentenced on Jan. 26, 2021 to 55 months in federal prison
     
  • Juan Manuel Martinez, aka “Mitos,” 45
    Pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Feb. 25, 2021 to 115 months in federal prison
     
  • Melenie Arceo, 24,
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 26, 2021 to 108 months in federal prison
     
  • Luis Alberto “Tito” Gonzalez, 40
    Pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm; sentenced on Feb. 17, 2021 to 77 months in federal prison
     
  • Priscilla Kay Caballero, 37
    Pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a communications facility; sentenced on May 25, 2021 to 48 months in federal prison 
     
  • Susan Odette Stinnett, 34
    Pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a communications facility; sentenced on Feb. 4, 2021 to 48 months in federal prison
     
  • John David Ramirez, 43
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 12, 2021 to 33 months in federal prison
     
  • Christian Daniel Cordova, 30
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced to on Jan. 28, 2021 to 84 months in federal prison
     
  • Ricardo Chavez, aka “KK,” 42
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 12, 2021 to 188 months in federal prison
     
  • Servian Riojas, aka “Smokey,” 41
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on Jan. 20, 2021 to 151 months in federal prison
     
  • Leonardo “Leo” Ortuno-Palacios, 53
    Pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; sentenced on September 30, 2021 to 240 months in federal prison
     

"This investigation was a massive undertaking and a true partnership between local, state and federal agencies.  We dismantled the entire organization, from out-of-state leadership, to West Texas leaders, suppliers and distributors," said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno. “The collective sentences imposed on the dozens of defendants will have a lasting impact on the community as we continue to work to keep our communities free from the social, criminal and community health damages caused by methamphetamine.”

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office; the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Division; the U.S. Marshals Service; Homeland Security Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ Dallas Field Division; ICE – Enforcement & Removal Operations; the Castro County Sheriff's Office; the Hereford Police Department; Texas Department of Safety; the Amarillo Police Department; the Dimmitt Police Department; the Randall County Sheriff's Office; the Lubbock Police Department; the Potter County Sheriff's Office; the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office; and the Plainview Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Long is prosecuting the case.

This effort was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Contact: 
Erin Dooley Press Officer 215-659-8707 erin.dooley@usdoj.gov
Updated July 27, 2022