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Press Release

California Man Sentenced to 70 Months for Transporting Methamphetamine in Lawn Mower Tires

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

EAST ST. LOUIS – A man from California was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison after he admitted to transporting 11 pounds of crystal methamphetamine to Fairview Heights, Illinois.

Luis A. Aguilar-Caldera, 31, of Chula Vista, California, pled guilty to one count of manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess a controlled substance. After serving his prison sentence, he will be placed on supervised release for two years.

“As a transportation hub, southern Illinois roadways are frequented by out-of-state drug dealers who target operations and plan distribution,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “Agents with the DEA work diligently to help prevent the poison from reaching our communities, and I appreciate their efforts.”

According to court documents, a confidential informant working with the DEA set up a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from a Mexico-based supplier in May 2021. The individual met two men in a Ford F-150 at the Flying J truck stop in Alorton, Illinois. Aguilar-Caldera was the passenger in the truck that was pulling a lawn mower on a trailer. Aguilar-Caldera told the confident source there were 11 pounds of methamphetamine located in the tires of the lawn mower.

As the Ford F-150 and the confidential source were driving to a mechanic shop to remove the tires and retrieve the drugs, DEA agents conducted a traffic stop in Fairview Heights and arrested the men in the truck.

Co-defendant Leonardo Andres Hernandez, 49, of Bentonville, Arkansas, was also named in the indictment and is facing a charge for manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess a controlled substance.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The Drug Enforcement Administration led the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Carraway prosecuted the case.

Updated April 13, 2023