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Press Release

Three Defendants Charged with Importing Over 500 lbs. of Methamphetamine

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 20, 2019

SAN DIEGO – Liam Graham Szalay-Bristol, Jose Benjamin Cisneros-Quintero, and Cristian Rodriguez-Hernandez were charged in federal court yesterday with conspiring to import 505 pounds of methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Section 963.  Defendant Cisneros-Quintero was also charged with knowingly and intentionally importing the drug, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 952 and 960.

On December 18, 2019, Cisneros-Quintero, the driver and sole occupant of a white bobtail box truck, arrived at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry Cargo Facility with what appeared to be a load of cement and/or clay blocks.  The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer inspected one of the cement blocks and observed a brown package inside, containing a white crystal substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine.  The truck and Cisneros-Quintero were subsequently released from the inspection area and were kept under constant surveillance by special agents with Homeland Security Investigations. While agents watched closely, Cisneros-Quintero picked up defendant Rodriguez-Hernandez and met with Defendant Szalay-Bristol before proceeding to a storage facility, which defendant Szalay-Bristol unlocked. At that point, the three defendants unloaded a total of 60 packages weighing 505.87 pounds into the unit.  All three were arrested, charged, and appeared in federal court yesterday afternoon.

“Methamphetamine-related deaths are at record numbers here in San Diego, and this spike directly mirrors the increase in meth seizures at the border,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.  “Fortunately, diligent federal agents prevented this very large meth load from causing further misery in our community, and ensured that the smugglers responsible will be held accountable.”

“Methamphetamine continues to be a deadly epidemic impacting our communities, and San Diego is a key hub for Mexican cartel methamphetamine coming into the United States,” said Cardell T. Morant, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego.  “As this significant seizure makes clear, HSI, CBP, and our partners are resolute in our efforts to protect our communities and our country from the threats of drug trafficking.”

“Smuggling of narcotics is a serious threat to our communities.  As long as transnational criminal originations continue to profit from their illicit activities, they will continue to develop ways to move their product,” said Pete Flores, director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego.  “Close collaboration between CBP and HSI is an essential piece to combatting trafficking of illegal narcotics.” 

DEFENDANTS                                              Case Number 19MJ5657

Liam Graham Szalay-Bristol                         Age: 21           San Diego      

Jose Benjamin Cisneros-Quintero                  Age: 25           Tijuana

Cristian Rodriguez-Hernandez                       Age: 31           Tijuana


Importation of Methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952, 960

Maximum penalty: Life in prison and $10 million fine

Conspiracy to import Schedule II Controlled Substance into the U.S., in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 963

Maximum penalty:  Life in prison and $10 million fine


Homeland Security Investigations

Customs and Border Protection

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Goff (619) 546-9735

Updated December 20, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: CAS19-1220-Szalay-Bristol, et al