You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 21, 2018

Interstate Methamphetamine Dealer Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison

Sioux Falls, SD – United States Attorney Ron Parsons announces that Justin Morales, a/k/a “Speedy,” age 36, of Wichita, Kansas, who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on May 18, 2018, by U.S. District Court Judge Karen E. Schreier.

Morales’s three decades in prison will be followed by 10 years of supervised release.  He was also ordered to pay $100 to the Federal Crime Victim’s Fund.

“This is an appropriate sentence for this repeat offender and committed drug dealer,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “Those who conspire to sell illegal drugs like methamphetamine and lethal opioids are inflicting tremendous suffering and death on our communities.  They will be held accountable by the Department of Justice.”

Federal law enforcement officials learned that Morales was selling methamphetamine in early 2016.  During a controlled purchase for five ounces of methamphetamine between Morales and a cooperating witness, Morales was recorded telling the cooperator that he and others sold methamphetamine in several South Dakota cities, and at least one Indian reservation within the state.  Morales said that his plan was to get a house in Sioux Falls that could be used exclusively to store methamphetamine for distribution.  In September 2016, the cooperator met with Morales again, and Morales was recorded telling the cooperator he was preparing to ship 20 pounds of methamphetamine to Sioux Falls, and that he had rented a small house on the west side of Sioux Falls to store the methamphetamine.  That same day, law enforcement was able to recover three pounds of marijuana, two pounds of methamphetamine, and a semi-automatic pistol that was connected to Morales and his co-conspirators, Chase Guzman and Daniel Guzman.  All three men were arrested in Sioux Falls.   

Morales and both Guzmans were indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2016.  Both Chase Guzman and Daniel Guzman pleaded guilty.  Chase Guzman was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison and Daniel Guzman was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.  Morales was found guilty by a federal jury in Sioux Falls on February 7, 2018.

This is Morales’s second felony drug conviction.  He has many other arrests and convictions in a criminal career spanning nearly 24 years, including a domestic battery charge that is still pending in Wichita.

Drug trafficking is an inherently violent activity.  It is common to find drug traffickers armed to the teeth with guns in order to protect their illegal drug product and cash, and enforce their illegal operations.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug.  Meth users typically smoke, snort, or inject it with a needle, often directly into their bloodstream.  It causes users to become euphoric and highly energized and agitated, sometimes staying awake for several days at a time.  This high is followed by a tremendous crash that can lead to days of sleeping.  Methamphetamine is extremely addictive, and many users report feeling hooked after one use.  Much of the violence, as well as burglaries and other property crimes, occurring in South Dakota has a direct connection to methamphetamine dealers and users.

The methamphetamine that is present in South Dakota is extremely potent and high in purity — almost 100% pure in most cases.  Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) experts say that this indicates that the methamphetamine was manufactured in criminal laboratories in Mexico and transported across the southern border of the United States.  This methamphetamine is produced and controlled by drug cartels.  Because this methamphetamine is so plentiful, it is incredibly cheap for drug dealers to buy it in bulk and break it up for distribution.

The majority of drug prosecutions in federal court in South Dakota are for methamphetamine.  In the past month, in addition to the sentences announced today, three more federal criminal defendants in Sioux Falls received prison sentences of 10 years, 10 years, and 25 years, respectively, for their participation in large-scale methamphetamine conspiracies. These individuals were part of three separate drug distribution operations and each defendant was involved in distributing over one pound of methamphetamine in the Sioux Falls area.  Each pound of methamphetamine provides over 1,000 doses (illegal uses) for typical methamphetamine users.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Sioux Falls Police Department; Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force; and the South Dakota Highway Patrol.  Deputy Criminal Chief John E. Haak of the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case.

Morales has been in custody since his arrest, and was returned to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service following the sentencing.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated May 22, 2018