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Press Release

Mexican National Sentenced for Meth Trafficking in 21-Pound Bust by SD Highway Patrol

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a man from San Jose, Mexico, who entered the United States and was subsequently apprehended in South Dakota and convicted of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine was sentenced on July 31, 2019, by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange.

Heriberto Navarro Ortiz, age 33, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison, 1 year of supervised release, and a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $100.

“First of all, I want to commend the South Dakota Highway Patrol for its excellent work in apprehending this drug trafficker,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “Most of the meth trafficked in South Dakota and across the United States is produced by violent Mexican drug cartels and smuggled across our southern border.  Federal, State, Local, and Tribal law enforcement authorities are working together to do everything possible to stamp out this poison and hold the traffickers accountable.”

Ortiz was indicted by a federal grand jury on December 4, 2018.  He pleaded guilty on May 3, 2019.

In early November of 2018, Ortiz was hired to travel to the United States and deliver a load of methamphetamine from California to Minnesota.  Using funds provided by his contact, Ortiz flew from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Tijuana, Mexico, and then crossed the border into the United States on foot.  Ortiz’s contact then instructed him to travel to Apple Valley, California, where he picked up a silver Chevrolet Malibu loaded with approximately 21 pounds of packaged methamphetamine, and began heading east.

On November 22, 2018, a Trooper with the South Dakota Highway Patrol stopped Ortiz’s car for speeding on Interstate 90 near mile marker 216.  After obtaining consent to search the vehicle, the Trooper discovered a package containing methamphetamine wrapped in plastic tape beneath the carpet covering a rear wheel well.  A thorough search of the car revealed that it contained nineteen hidden packages weighing approximately 21 pounds.  Six packages were located in the rear wheel well, four were inside of the driver and passenger seat backs, and nine were in the windshield cowling.  The South Dakota Public Health Laboratory determined that the packages contain 8.4 kilograms of pure methamphetamine.  Prior to November 2018, Ortiz had entered the United States at least seven or eight times.

This case was investigated by the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron J. Cook prosecuted the case.

Ortiz was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated August 2, 2019