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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

Friday, April 22, 2016

Mexican National Sentenced To Lengthy Prison Term For Trafficking Large Quantities Of Crystal Methamphetamine

The Defendant Converted Liquid Methamphetamine to Crystal Methamphetamine

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Santiago Sanchez, 39, of Mexico, was sentenced today to 210 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for trafficking large quantities of crystal methamphetamine, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  Sanchez pleaded guilty in December 2015 to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

U.S. Attorney Rose is joined by Daniel R. Salter, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office; Janie Sutton, Acting Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation; Sheriff Charles S. McDonald of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office; Sheriff Donald J. Hill of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office; Sheriff Dudley Greene of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office; Chief Allen Lawrence of the Marion Police Department; and Chief Tammy Hooper of the Asheville Police Department.

“Through the homemade meth production operation Sanchez devised and ran, he was able to produce and sell large quantities of crystal meth.  Sanchez even involved his own children in his illegal activities using them to translate to further his drug manufacture and distribution. Sanchez illegally entered our country and began to poison our citizens through distribution of this illegal and devastating drug,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.  “We now welcome him to the confines of the United States Bureau of Prisons where he will serve a lengthy and well-deserved sentence.”

Special Agent in Charge Salter stated, “All participating agencies played a crucial role in the eradication of this criminal network. Sanchez’s methamphetamine trafficking activities posed a significant threat to the quality of life in Buncombe, Henderson, Polk Counties and surrounding areas. The removal of this dangerous individual makes these communities safer today. I want to thank our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts and the United States Attorney’s Office, who had a direct impact in making this investigation a success.”

According to filed court documents and statements made in court, from at least March 2015 to May 2015, Sanchez was responsible for trafficking large amounts of crystal methamphetamine in Buncombe, Henderson and Polk Counties and elsewhere.  Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement observed Sanchez conducting numerous drug transactions, at times using his minor children as translators on the phone or even handing him the container with the narcotics.  Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Sanchez’s residence and an adjacent outbuilding located in Polk County and seized more than a pound of crystal methamphetamine, an Igloo thermos containing 1,680.9 grams of liquid methamphetamine, a burner, a pot with a lid, cutting agents and other drug paraphernalia used by Sanchez to convert the liquid methamphetamine into crystal methamphetamine.  Law enforcement also seized from the residence several firearms, ammunition and $3,200 in cash.

Sanchez is in federal custody and will be transferred to custody of the Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.  Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.  In addition to the imposed sentence, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger ordered the defendant be deported to Mexico upon completion of his prison term.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Rose noted that multiple agencies worked together to bring this prolific crystal methamphetamine trafficker to justice and thanked the DEA, the SBI, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Polk County’s Sheriff’s Office, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, the Marion Police Department and the Asheville Police Department for investigating this case.

Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville handled the prosecution.




Updated April 22, 2016