May 21, 2015

Two sentenced for transporting meth through Yellowstone

A Mexican man and a Seattle woman have been convicted of federal crimes after being caught with perhaps $10,000 worth of methamphetamine in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park last year.

Baldomero Juarez Guevarra, 26, and Noemi Alvarez Avila, 24, were pulled over for speeding last September on U.S. Highway 191, which cuts through Yellowstone near its northwestern border.

U.S. Highway 191 on a Park Service map
Law enforcement officials ended up searching their Chevy Malibu and — hidden inside a PlayStation 3 stashed in the trunk of their Idaho rental car — they found around 120 grams of meth.

“(Avila) admitted she knew there was four ounces of methamphetamine in the Malibu and they were making a delivery to Billings, Montana,” wrote National Park Service Special Agent Dan Kirschner in a criminal complaint.

Guevarra, of Zacatecas, Mexico, pleaded guilty to possessing and to conspiring to possess 50 or more grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute it as well as a count of illegally re-entering the United States after having been deported.

At an April 21 hearing before Federal District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl, Guevarra received a seven-year prison sentence. If Guevarra was staying in the United States, his prison time would be followed by four years of supervised release, but he’ll likely be deported again when he gets out.

Guevarra’s criminal record — which included prior involvement in the drug trade and domestic violence — played a role in the sentence he received, said John Powell, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne.

“(Avila) admitted she knew there was four ounces of methamphetamine in the Malibu and they were making a delivery to Billings, Montana,” charging documents say. 

Avila, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to possessing and conspiring to possess 50 or more grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute it.

On Friday, Judge Skavdahl sentenced Avila to five years of supervised probation.

“She had no major prior criminal record and was determined not to be part of the plan to obtain the meth or in determining a course of action for its delivery,” Powell said. He added that cooperation is always viewed favorably by prosecutors.

Yellowstone Park Ranger Mark Wozniak had pulled over Avila after clocking her at 70 miles an hour on the 55-mile-an-hour highway, the criminal complaint says. Wozniak found Avila did not have a driver’s license with her, and neither did the vehicle’s other three occupants, two of whom were children. Guevarra, riding shotgun, initially denied having any identification, though he later produced information showing he was a citizen of Mexico.

While waiting to see if U.S. Customs and Immigration wanted to detain Guevarra, Wozniak found some irregularities in the occupants’ stories.

Guevarra and Avila couldn't get their stories straight with the Yellowstone ranger.

The complaint says Guevarra told the ranger he didn’t know who they were going to visit; Avila and Guevarra couldn’t explain how they knew each other; Avila couldn’t explain why they were making a long trip with a short stay, or why the car had been rented for her when she didn’t have her driver’s license.

Wozniak believed something illegal was going on and summoned Gallatin County Sheriff’s Deputy Doug Lieurance and his drug detection K-9, Hondo.

After learning that Hondo was going to sniff around the vehicle, Guevarra pulled a paper towel out of his pants pocket that held a small amount of marijuana.

Hondo alerted to the odor of a controlled substance in the car.

“Do whatever you have to do,” Avila reportedly told Wozniak.

Wozniak found a folded $1 bill with meth residue in Guevarra’s wallet. In the trunk, authorities found an apparent marijuana pipe in an art supply box, as well as a duffle bag containing a PlayStation 3 held together by wooden screws. Looking inside the console, police found the PlayStation’s electronics had been supplemented with two bags of meth, the complaint says.

Guevarra received a stiffer sentence because of prior involvement with the drug trade and other factors, according to a spokesman for federal prosecutors. 

Guevarra has been incarcerated since the Sept. 27 traffic stop. Avila has been free since an Oct. 2 court appearance.

He must pay $300, and she must pay $200 in court assessments.

1 comment:

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