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Press Release

Mexican national is latest to plead guilty for role in California-to-West Virginia drug conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia
Defendant faces at least five and up to 40 years in federal prison

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Mexican national pleaded guilty today for his role in a California-to-West Virginia methamphetamine conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Miguel Tafolla-Montoya, 31, entered his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Tafolla-Montoya admitted that on March 19, 2016, he arrived in Huntington after traveling from California to pick up money for a delivery of crystal methamphetamine. Cara Linn Monasmith and Kelly Newcomb, codefendants of Tafolla-Montoya, had previously driven approximately 10 pounds of crystal methamphetamine from California to Huntington for delivery. Tafolla-Montoya further admitted that he had helped conceal the drugs in the spare tire of the car that Monasmith and Newcomb used to transport the methamphetamine. Tafolla-Montoya was arrested prior to collecting any money for that drug delivery.

Tafolla-Montoya additionally admitted that near the end of February 2016, he had helped conceal 10 pounds of crystal methamphetamine in a vehicle that transported drugs from California to Louisville. Furthermore, Tafolla-Montoya admitted his involvement in a drug deal for crystal methamphetamine that took place in late December 2015 in the parking garage of the Embassy Suites in Charleston.

Tafolla-Montoya faces at least five and up to 40 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on December 8, 2016.

This prosecution is the result of a multi-agency investigation that led to an eight-count indictment implicating 14 defendants, including Tafolla-Montoya. All of Tafolla-Montoya’s codefendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. As part of this conspiracy, Rafael Garcia Serrato, of Los Angeles, Cesar Garcia, also of Los Angeles, Daniel Ortiz-Rivera, a Mexican national, and Velarian Sylvester Carter, of Beckley, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Serrato and Garcia are scheduled to be sentenced on December 6, 2016. Ortiz-Rivera is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, 2016. Carter is scheduled to be sentenced on October 13, 2016. Also, as part of this conspiracy, Marco Antonio Bojorquez-Rojas, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime, and is scheduled to be sentenced on  December 7, 2016. Additionally, three women who were used as mules to transport methamphetamine, Danielle Dessaray Estrada, of Los Angeles, Kelly Newcomb, of Nevada, and Cara Linn Monasmith, also of Nevada, pleaded guilty to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime. Estrada and Newcomb are scheduled to be sentenced on October 6, 2016. Monasmith is scheduled to be sentenced on November 8, 2016.

The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Charleston Police Department, and the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald is in charge of the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.

This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.

Updated September 7, 2016

Drug Trafficking