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Texas man sentenced to 33 years in federal prison for Sinaloa cartel meth trafficking conspiracy

October 17, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Texas man sentenced to 33 years in federal prison for Sinaloa cartel meth trafficking conspiracy

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On Friday, a 45-year-old man from Littlefield, Texas was sentenced to over 33 years in a federal lockup for his participation in a meth trafficking conspiracy with ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Arnoldo Mendoza Lepez was sentenced to 405 months behind bars by Senior U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings. Lepez and his co-defendant, 30-year-old Joseph Raymond Jaramillo, Jr. pleaded guilty in July to one count of possessing with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of meth.

Jaramillo was sentenced in early October to 365 months for his role in the meth trafficking conspiracy.

The investigation was launched in May when Zahir Rivera-Pineda, 27, was pulled over near Albuquerque by a state trooper.

A search of his car yielded roughly 20 pounds of meth. Officials learned the drugs were headed to a home in Littlefield and continued the delivery to identify who was receiving it.

Just after the drugs were delivered, agents carried out a search warrant and discovered Jaramillo and Lepez.

Inside the room with Jaramillo and Lepez, authorities saw bundles of the delivered drugs.

Arnoldo Mendoza Lepez and Joseph Raymond Jaramillo, Jr arrive in shackles for their scheduled court appearance earlier this year

The remaining bundles were found in a concealed compartment in the closet of the same room. Agents also seized a number of firearms.

The meth recovered in the residence weighed 8,833 grams. Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office investigator Tony Williams told the court he believed the drugs, which had a 97 percent purity level, originated from Mexico.

He said Rivera-Pineda is not a citizen and confessed to working for the Sinaloa cartel for two years. He said unlike other cartel members sent to the U.S., Rivera-Pineda was directly contacting the cartel in Mexico, instead of going through a handler.

Williams said based on the amount and purity of the drugs; he believed it was manufactured in Mexico and smuggled into the country.

During the probe, Williams said phone evidence revealed that Lepez and Jaramillo were depositing cash in bank accounts, which was then transferred to Mexico.

Before his sentencing, Lepez apologized to the judge for his behavior.

“If I could go back and change things, I would,” he said.

In June, Rivera-Pineda pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and was sentenced to 60 months.

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