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Press Release

Meth Trafficking Co-Conspirator Sentenced to 17+ Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois
Lauren Barry, Public Affairs Officer

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – A federal district judge imposed a 210-month term of imprisonment to an individual who admitted to driving a car intended to distract law enforcement from another car trafficking 40 pounds of meth. 

At a joint plea and sentencing hearing Wednesday, Jose V. Sanchez, 28, of Lindsay, California, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance: methamphetamine.

“As traffickers try to get creative in concealing drugs by creating diversions for traffic stops, law enforcement sees through the ploys and will continue to work to remove dangerous narcotics such as meth from our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe.

Co-defendant Christopher Palmer, 40, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to federal charges for driving the car containing 40 pounds of meth through southern Illinois and was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment in February.

According to court documents, two DEA highway interdiction officers signaled to pull Palmer’s car over on Illinois Route 143 exit ramp off Interstate 70 near Marine in May 2022. Sanchez was driving a different car and sped in front in an attempt to divert law enforcement, but officers stayed on Palmer’s vehicle and conducted a traffic stop.

“Southern Illinois is a transportation hub for couriers moving illicit drugs from the south to north and northeast,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Dixon, head of Drug Enforcement Administration investigations in southern Illinois. “Investigations like this one demonstrate that DEA, working in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, will continue to be laser-focused on the nation’s highways and byways for the illegal drugs that are transported to and poison our communities. Let this serve as a warning to the occupants of these vehicles: we will find you, we will arrest, and you will be prosecuted, and ultimately you will go to prison.”

Following a positive indication of narcotic odor from a canine, officers searched Palmer’s vehicle and located a semi-automatic pistol in the center console and a duffel bag in the trunk stuffed with 40 bags holding approximately one pound each of crystal meth, totaling more than 17 kilograms of actual meth.

After finding the meth, officers located Sanchez in his car in a store parking lot. A store employee told police Sanchez had thrown something away in the storm drain and a nearby trashcan, and officers located a disassembled handgun and a round of 9-millimeter ammunition.

DEA led the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Trippi prosecuted the case.

Updated May 24, 2024