PHOENIX – A southern Arizona man faces possible life in prison after being found guilty by a federal jury on charges stemming from his role as the transportation coordinator for a methamphetamine distribution ring operating in the southwestern United States.
Indalecio Castro-Ponce, 40, of San Luis, was convicted April 12 of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and two counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Each conviction carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, a $10 million fine, or both. The charges are the result of a multi-agency probe led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Castro-Ponce remains in federal custody awaiting his sentencing hearing, which is set for July 8 before U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton.
According to trial evidence, Castro-Ponce conspired with others, including his wife and teenage son, to distribute methamphetamine to various locations in the Southwest, including Salt Lake City; Las Vegas; Fresno, Calif.; Sunland, Calif.; and Moreno Valley, Calif. Castro-Ponce made more than 20 drug trafficking-related trips between February and July 2012, often taking his wife and children with him in order to attempt to disguise his activities.
Following visits by Castro-Ponce, law enforcement authorities seized more than three pounds of 96 percent pure "ice" methamphetamine in Fresno, and more than seven pounds of methamphetamine in Moreno Valley. Authorities also seized more than $200,000 cash from the same locations.
The probe was led by HSI Yuma with assistance from HSI special agents in Phoenix, Fresno, Riverside County, Calif., Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Other agencies involved in the case include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Los Angeles IMPACT Task Force, the INCA Task Force and the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. The case was prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Krissa Lanham and William Bryan from the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona.