KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a nearly $10 million conspiracy to distribute almost 1,000 kilograms of methamphetamine.
Jesus Banuelos, 23, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to 18 years and nine months in federal prison without parole.
On Aug. 23, 2021, Banuelos pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of distributing methamphetamine, and one count of being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm.
Banuelos admitted that he was responsible for the distribution of at least 436.19 grams of pure methamphetamine. Banuelos was involved in the sale of approximately half a pound of methamphetamine to a confidential human source on two occasions in April and May 2019. When Banuelos was arrested during a traffic stop on May 8, 2019, Kansas City police officers could smell the odor of marijuana emanating from the driver’s side window of his vehicle and saw marijuana roaches in the ash tray in plain view. Officers searched his vehicle and found a Glock 9mm handgun. Banuelos told officers he used marijuana three or four days a week.
The court also ordered Banuelos to forfeit to the government $23,974, which represents the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking. Banuelos admitted that he sold 436.19 grams of pure methamphetamine at a price of $2,300 per half pound. The court also held Banuelos responsible for trafficking an additional approximately 1.9 kilograms of methamphetamine, for a total of almost 2.4 kilograms (about 5.2 pounds) of methamphetamine. At $2,300 per half pound, this results in a total amount of $23,974.
At the time of this federal offense, Banuelos was on state probation for stealing an Olympic Arms AR-15 from a pawn shop.
Banuelos admitted he was part of the drug-trafficking organization led by Mirza Alihodzic, 36, of Kansas City, Mo., who pleaded guilty on July 18, 2022, and awaits sentencing. Alihodzic acknowledged that he was responsible for the distribution of at least 45 kilograms of methamphetamine during the conspiracy, which lasted from Sept. 1, 2018, to Nov. 5, 2019.
Banuelos is among five defendants who have been sentenced in this case. Additionally, 13 co-defendants have pleaded guilty, and await sentencing, in two separate indictments that resulted from this investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bradley K. Kavanaugh and Sean T. Foley and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Bradshaw. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the FBI, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement to specifically identify criminals responsible for significant violent crime in the Western District of Missouri. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods is an evidence-based program that identifies the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develops comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, Project Safe Neighborhoods focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.