Skip to main content
Press Release

Waynesboro Man Faces Mandatory 10-Year Prison Sentence on Federal Meth Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Miguel Moreno Was Trafficking Thousands of Grams of Pure Methamphetamine

Harrisonburg, VIRGINIA – A Waynesboro man, who expected to find thousands of grams of pure methamphetamine in a car tire being shipped from New Mexico instead found nothing thanks to the work of law enforcement, pleaded guilty last week in federal court to a pair of drug charges, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced.

Miguel Angel Moreno, 22, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty recently in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of attempting to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Each count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of up to life. Moreno also faces a possible $10,000,000 fine.

“Crystal methamphetamine is an incredibly dangerous and addictive drug,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to stanch the flow of this substance into the Shenandoah Valley and aggressively prosecute organizations and individuals who distribute it.” 

“Our message to drug traffickers and their accomplices is clear: individuals attempting to bring dangerous and deadly substances into our neighborhoods will be found,” said ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Washington, D.C. Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner. “We will not sit back and allow this poison to infiltrate the communities we call home.”

According to evidence presented at Moreno’s guilty plea hearing last week by Assistant United States Attorney Jeb Terrien, on June 20, 2018, law enforcement in New Mexico were conducting interdiction operations on Interstate 40 when an officer stopped a tractor-trailer car-hauler. During the traffic stop, the officer and his narcotics canine conducted a search of a jeep, located on the car-hauler. The canine alerted on the Jeep’s spare tire. Officers cut open the tire and recovered 23 packages of crystal methamphetamine, or 9,915 grams of pure methamphetamine. A further search uncovered an additional 4,269 grams of pure methamphetamine in the Jeep and additionally revealed the Jeep was to be delivered to an address in Waynesboro, Virginia.

On June 23, 2018, after replacing the cut tire with a new, now empty, spare tire, the Jeep was delivered to the agreed drop-off location, a gas station in Waynesboro, for pick-up by Miguel Moreno. The defendant arrived in a sports car, removed the spare tire from the Jeep, placed it in his sports car and drove away.

Shortly thereafter, the agents with Homeland Security Investigations and the Waynesboro Police Department executed a search warrant at Moreno’s residence where they recovered multiple cellular phones, digital scales, latex gloves, plastic baggies, and one, cut tire from the trunk of Moreno’s vehicle.

When questioned by police, Moreno admitted he knew the tire contained controlled substances and that the contents of the tire were valued at approximately $150,000.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Waynesboro Police Department, and the Waynesboro Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Jeb Terrien is prosecuting the case for the United States.

Updated February 25, 2019