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Press Release

Two Mexican Citizens Sentenced to Decades in Federal Prison in a South Dakota Cocaine Conspiracy

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

SIOUX FALLS - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier has sentenced the second of two Mexican men convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. The sentencing took place on June 3, 2024.

Mario Castro Covarrubias, 37, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. On March 11, 2024, Melecio Rodriguez Medina, 39, was sentenced to 27 years and three months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

Mario Castro Covarrubias and Melecio Rodriguez Medina were indicted for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance by a federal grand jury in February of 2022. Rodriguez Medina pleaded guilty on November 6, 2023, and Castro Covarrubias pleaded guilty on January 3, 2024.

Rodriguez Medina and Castro Covarrubias were based in Mexico and were part of an international organization that arranged for the transportation of large amounts of narcotics to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from Mexico. While in Mexico, Rodriguez Medina and Castro Covarrubias coordinated with two couriers to get approximately 25 kilograms of cocaine delivered to Sioux Falls in October of 2021. On October 18, 2021, law enforcement seized the cocaine that they had shipped to South Dakota. In December of 2021, the two again coordinated to ship approximately 42 kilograms of cocaine to Sioux Falls, which was also seized. In addition to cocaine, Rodriguez Medina was responsible for organizing a shipment of 1 kilogram of fentanyl pills to Sioux Falls. Investigators also determined that Rodriguez Medina made arrangements for a co-conspirator in South Dakota to pick up multi-pound shipments of methamphetamine in California and then take them back to South Dakota for distribution.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Hodges prosecuted the case.

Both men were immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after their respective sentencings.

Updated June 7, 2024

Topic
Drug Trafficking