Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray announced today that JOSE LUIS URREA, age 35 of Tucson, Arizona, and MARIO VERA-SANDOVAL, age 51 of Cananea, Sonora, Mexico were convicted and sentenced by Federal District Court Alan B. Johnson related to their involvement in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Urrea was sentenced to 63 months. Vera-Sandoval was sentenced to 37 months of imprisonment followed by 5 years of supervision, and was convicted of illegally entering the United States, for which he received a sentence of time served.
On August 14, 2020, the defendants were stopped by Wyoming Highway Patrol (WHP) in Sweetwater County for a routine traffic stop. After the vehicle pulled over, the two passengers quickly exited the vehicle and began aggressively checking the tires and could not give a definitive answer as to their travel plans. During questioning, Urrea admitted he thought there was something illegal in a backpack that the trooper observed in the car. The trooper asked permission to search the vehicle, which resulted in law enforcement finding a large amount of methamphetamine, totaling 2,331.8 grams (approximately 5 pounds) inside the backpack. Urrea said he was paid $3,000 to deliver the backpack to unknown persons in another state. Vera-Sandoval was aware that the reason for the trip was to transport methamphetamine and law enforcement discovered he was in the United States illegally. Both defendants were taken into custody.
Special agents with the Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) further questioned the defendants and gathered enough evidence through their phones, dash cam footage, and their own admissions to charge them with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
“We know the interstate system is widely used by traffickers,” said Criminal Chief Nicole Romine. “That is why state agencies and local law enforcement in communities along the interstates, along with federal partners, work collectively to pursue and prosecute this type of criminal conduct. Simply put, we will not tolerate the use of our interstate system to transport drugs to or through the State of Wyoming.”
“On behalf of the DEA I’d like to commend the sharp eye of the Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers who made this significant seizure,” said Deanne Reuter, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Denver Field Division. “Officers like these are the real force multiplier when combating the trafficking of these dangerous drugs.”
This crime was investigated by the WHP, DCI, and DEA. The drug-related charges were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie I. Sprecher and the illegal immigration charges were prosecuted by Jonathan Coppom.