Third meth mule pleads guilty for role in California-to-West Virginia drug conspiracy
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A woman caught transporting a substantial amount of crystal methamphetamine from California to West Virginia pleaded guilty today to a federal drug charge, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Cara Linn Monasmith, 46, of Las Vegas, entered her guilty plea to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime.
Monasmith admitted that on March 10, 2016, a codefendant, Kelly Newcomb, rented a vehicle in Las Vegas and traveled to California with Monasmith where 10 pounds of crystal methamphetamine were concealed in the vehicle for transportation to West Virginia. Monasmith and Newcomb then began the drive to West Virginia and arrived in Huntington on March 18, 2016. Newcomb rented a room at a Super 8 Motel, and Monasmith and Newcomb followed the instructions of another codefendant by leaving the vehicle unlocked in the parking lot. After their arrival, an undercover officer, in accordance with instructions obtained through a cooperating individual, removed the spare tire where the drugs were concealed.
Monasmith further admitted that in February 2016, as part of the same drug conspiracy, she drove another vehicle containing approximately 10 pounds of crystal methamphetamine hidden in a spare tire from California to Louisville. Once she reached Louisville, another codefendant picked up the methamphetamine and transported the drugs to Charleston for distribution.
Monasmith faces up to five years in federal prison when she is sentenced on November 8, 2016.
This prosecution is the result of a multi-agency investigation which led to an eight-count indictment implicating 14 defendants, including Monasmith. Monasmith’s codefendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. As part of this conspiracy, 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. Ortiz-Rivera is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, 2016. Carter is scheduled to be sentenced on October 13, 2016. Additionally, two women who were also used as mules to transport methamphetamine, Danielle Dessaray Estrada, of Los Angeles, and Kelly Newcomb, of Nevada, are scheduled to be sentenced on October 6, 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.