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Contraband
02/09/2011

Mexican national sentenced to 15 years in crystal meth conspiracy

DETROIT - A Mexican national was sentenced to 15 years and five months for his role in a conspiracy to import more than five million tablets of pseudoephedrine into the United States following an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Ramiro Ordaz-Melicosa, (a.k.a., Alberto Flores), a 38-year-old man from Apatzingan, Michoacan, Mexico, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison as a result of his conviction for conspiring to distribute and import into the United States approximately five million tablets of pseudoephedrine, knowing that the pills would be used to manufacture a controlled substance, specifically, "crystal meth".

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Detroit.

The U.S. district court judge hearing the case, Chief Judge Gerald E. Rosen, also imposed a three year term of supervised release on Melicosa as part of the sentence. Melicosa was the last outstanding defendant of 11 named in a single-count indictment issued in 2003.

According to the evidence introduced at trial, Melicosa was one of the principal, intended "end-buyers" of the pseudoephedrine tablets, and was one of three defendants on the indictment who smuggled approximately $100,000 in cash into Canada and delivered it to co-conspirators in Montreal as advance payment for roughly 5 million pills of pseudoephedrine, which were to be smuggled from Montreal into the United States via the Windsor-Detroit border and then distributed to locations in California where it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Three months earlier, members of the group had similarly paid for and actually received roughly 9 million tablets of pseudoephedrine from their Canadian co-defendants for the same purpose but the pills were seized by law enforcement before they reached their final destination. Ultimately, the plans of this international criminal conspiracy were thwarted through the cooperative investigative efforts of ICE HSI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Canadian Law Enforcement Authorities.

Special Agent in Charge Moskowitz stated, "This sentencing levels the final blow to a drug smuggling operation that could have pumped untold amounts of poison into our communities," said Brian M. Moskowitz, ICE HSI special agent in charge. "Through the coordinated efforts of our federal and international law enforcement partners, we have effectively stopped this organization from expanding its market in the U.S. and in Canada."

Two of the co-defendants in the case, Shahin Judeh and Enrique Sanchez (also known as Enrique Barajas), were extradited from abroad for prosecution in this matter and pleaded guilty to charges identical to those underlying Melicosa's conviction. Judeh and Sanchez were respectively sentenced to terms of 174 months and 101 months imprisonment. Co-Defendants Ali Salem, Mohammad Awad, and Nasir Baste were respectively sentenced to imprisonment terms of 141 months, 87 months, and 84 months. Prosecutions of the remaining co-defendants were handled by other, largely foreign, prosecuting authorities. Melicosa had been a fugitive in this case until his arrest and separate prosecution in the Eastern District of Kentucky in 2007 on separate pseudoephedrine conspiracy charges.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Allen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl Gilmer-Hill.