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Drug dog alerts on kilos concealed in kibble

FRESNO, Calif. — A Mexican national woman faces federal criminal charges after a drug-sniffing canine alerted on dog food bags in her vehicle which were subsequently found to contain more than 50 pounds of methamphetamine.

America Alejandra Quintana, 26, was arraigned in Fresno Wednesday on federal methamphetamine trafficking charges and pleaded not guilty. She was indicted Jan. 3 on one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Quintana's next court date is Feb. 19.

According to court documents, on Dec. 10, 2012, Quintana was stopped for a traffic violation in Madera County and a drug detection dog alerted on the dog food bags. Inside, investigators discovered 52 plastic bags each containing about one pound of methamphetamine. Quintana was arrested on state charges, which were dropped following the issuance of the federal indictment.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Justice. Assistant United States Attorney Melanie L. Alsworth is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Quintana faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.