Mexican National Sentenced for Cocaine Trafficking
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Mexican national, stopped en route from Arizona to Ohio, was sentenced in federal court today for possessing at least five kilograms of cocaine with the intent to distribute.
Adriana Gutierrez-Ramirez, also known as Adriana Peralta, 43, a citizen of Mexico residing in Phoenix, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 10 years and one month in federal prison without parole.
Gutierrez-Ramirez was found guilty at trial on Dec. 5, 2017. Co-defendant Luis J. Duarte, 60, also a citizen of Mexico residing in Phoenix, pleaded guilty to possessing at least 500 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute and was sentenced on Jan. 24, 2018, to 29 months in prison.
Duarte was driving a 2016 Ford F350 cargo utility truck, with Gutierrez-Ramirez in the passenger seat, when they were stopped by a state trooper on I-44 in Strafford, Mo., on Feb. 25, 2017. Duarte had rented the truck in Phoenix two days earlier for a one-way trip.
When the trooper searched the vehicle, he found a kilogram-sized package of cocaine inside a cardboard box containing clothing in the cargo area of the truck and placed Duarte and Gutierrez-Ramirez under arrest. Four more kilogram-sized packages of cocaine were found during a search of the vehicle after it was transported to headquarters.
Duarte admitted that he was solicited by an unidentified person to drive the truck to Ohio. That person gave Duarte $1,500 to rent the truck and for expenses during the trip. Duarte told investigators he was unsure how much he was being paid for the trip but expected to receive payment when he reached the destination. When Duarte picked up the truck, Gutierrez-Ramirez – whom he had never met – was already sitting inside.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nhan D. Nguyen and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.