KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that five Mexican nationals were sentenced in federal court today for their roles in a Mexico-based drug-trafficking organization that smuggled large amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico to distribute in the Kansas City, Mo., area.
Alejandro Valencia, 32, Eric Octavio Rangel-Ortega, 33, and Alfredo Avitia, 34, all of whom are citizens of Mexico residing in Kansas City, Mo., and Juan Rodriguez-Ponce, 62, and his son, Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Maynez, 36, both of Mexico, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple.
Valencia was sentenced to 24 years and four months in federal prison without parole. Octavio Rangel-Ortega was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison without parole.
The court also ordered Valencia and Rangel-Ortega to forfeit to the government $376,000 that was seized by law enforcement officers and represents the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking, and a 2001 Silverado that was used to commit the offenses.
Avitia was sentenced to three years and four months in federal prison without parole. Rodriguez-Maynez and Rodriguez-Ponce were each sentenced to nine years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered them to forfeit to the government a 2002 Honda Odyssey van.
Law enforcement officers initially purchased methamphetamine from Rangel-Ortega on five separate occasions from October 2012 to January 2013 during an undercover storefront operation.
On three occasions, those transactions occurred near the Mores Early Childhood Center and Elementary School in Kansas City, Kan. The undercover officer purchased a total of 256.9 grams of methamphetamine from Rangel-Ortega during this time period, until Rangel-Ortega left the United States and returned to Mexico. Rangel-Ortega then told the undercover officer that his cousin, Valencia, would continue to sell methamphetamine.
The undercover officer purchased a total of 345.4 grams of methamphetamine from Valencia on five separate occasions from February to April 2013. The undercover officer contacted Rangel-Ortega before every deal and Rangel-Ortega made contact with Valencia to ensure he would sell to the undercover officer. After one of the buys, Valencia told the undercover officer that he sent Rangel-Ortega the money while he was in Mexico.
Investigators learned of additional members of the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Investigators also learned that Valencia was expecting a shipment of cocaine from Mexico to Kansas City, Mo., and planned to ship $330,000 in cash back to Mexico.
Investigators conducted surveillance and on April 19, 2013, saw Valencia meet with Rodriguez-Maynea and Rodriguez-Ponce, who had driven their vehicle across the border from Mexico a few days earlier.
After observing the transaction between Valencia and the other men, law enforcement officers later stopped the Honda Odyssey driven by Rodriguez-Maynez and Rodriguez-Ponce. Officers found 33 bundles of cash, each containing $10,000 for a total of $330,000, stashed in a hidden compartment.
On the same day, officers executed a search warrant at Valencia’s residence and seized approximately five kilograms of cocaine, $20,400 and Valencia’s truck.
On Aug. 22, 2013, a confidential informant working under the direction of law enforcement arranged to purchase one ounce of cocaine from Avitia for $1,000. On Aug. 27, 2013, the same confidential informant again working under the direction of law enforcement arranged to purchase two ounces of cocaine from Avitia. This transaction did not occur after it appeared that Avitia had observed law enforcement surveillance.
Valencia pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine from Sept. 1, 2012, to April 19, 2013. Valencia also pleaded guilty to bulk cash smuggling, to participating in a conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine and to participating in a money-laundering conspiracy.
Rangel-Ortega pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, to distributing methamphetamine and to his role in the money-laundering conspiracy.
Avitia pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to distribute cocaine and to participating in the money-laundering conspiracy.
Rodriguez-Maynez and Rodriguez-Ponce both pleaded guilty to bulk cash smuggling and to their roles in a conspiracy to import cocaine.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from the Kansas State Highway Patrol.