Three Members of Canyon County Meth Trafficking Organization Sentenced to Federal Prison
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 15, 2011|
BOISE—Idaho residents Ricardo Mercado, 24, of Homedale, Ruben Arredondo Mora, 21, of Caldwell, and Lorrie Ann Chavez, 37, of Nampa, were sentenced this week for their part in a methamphetamine trafficking organization that imported multiple pounds of 100 percent pure methamphetamine from Nevada to Idaho. Their organization distributed methamphetamine to Norteno gang members throughout Canyon County. Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting by designation in the District of Idaho, sentenced Mercado to 188 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release and Chavez to 78 months in prison followed by five years’ supervised release; both for conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Mora was sentenced to 120 months in prison followed by eight years of supervised release for distribution of 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Chavez was ordered to forfeit $25,000 and Mercado $5,000 in cash proceeds.
According to court documents and the defendants’ admissions in court, between November 29, 2010 and January 31, 2011, Mercado and Chavez conspired with each other, Mora, co-defendants Amanda Lynn Smith and Aron Herrera Gonzales, and others, to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Mora admitted that on February 1, 2011, he distributed 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Amanda Smith will be sentenced on October 17 and Aron Gonzales on December 2.
At sentencing, evidence was presented that Mercado sold methamphetamine, stored methamphetamine, and collected debts for the drug trafficking organization. He was found to be in possession of a firearm at the time of his arrest. During the investigation it was determined that during the conspiracy, Mercado kidnapped a customer at gunpoint in an effort to ensure payment for past methamphetamine sales. Chavez admitted that on January 31, 2011, she, on behalf of co-defendants Gonzales and Smith, agreed to travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, to purchase approximately 2.8 pounds of methamphetamine. Upon arriving in Las Vegas, she purchased 2.8 pounds of methamphetamine with cash provided to her from Gonzales and Smith. Chavez and Mora secreted the methamphetamine in a cooler and traveled back to Idaho. Upon returning to Nampa, the 2.8 pounds of methamphetamine was found in her bedroom, pursuant to a search warrant served on her residence. The Drug Enforcement Administration Laboratory determined that the 2.8 pounds of methamphetamine imported to Idaho was 100 percent pure. Evidence was presented at sentencing that Mora is a documented gang member.
“Methamphetamine trafficking, particularly to gang members, is a serious problem that demands a serious response from law enforcement, prosecutors, and the courts,” said Olson. “Law enforcement has recently seen an alarming increase in high potency methamphetamine being imported into Idaho from California, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico. These defendants, appropriately, will pay a heavy price for bringing this dangerously addictive drug to Idaho communities. State and federal law enforcement officers throughout Idaho will continue to work together to ensure that drug traffickers and gang members are caught, prosecuted and convicted.”
The case was investigated by the FBI Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crimes Task Force and the Nampa Police Department Special Investigations Unit.