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March 3, 2022Sioux City, IA, United StatesNarcotics

Jury convicts man of possession with intent to distribute meth following ICE HSI, joint law enforcement partner investigation

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — A man who possessed, with the intent to distribute, methamphetamine was convicted by a jury on February 25, 2022, after a 4-day trial in federal court in Sioux City following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), joint law enforcement partner investigation.

Valdez Romero helped remove 20 pounds of meth from the gas tank of a car driven from California to Iowa. The meth was intended for redistribution in NW Iowa.

Carmelo Valdez Romero, 35, from Sioux City, Iowa, was convicted of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The verdict was returned following about three hours of jury deliberations.

The evidence at trial showed that on March 17, 2020, Valdez Romero and others possessed with intent to distribute about 20 pounds of methamphetamine. Valdez Romero aided others in the removal of 20 one-pound packages of methamphetamine hidden in the gas tank of a rental vehicle which had traveled from California to rural Dickinson County, Iowa, with the methamphetamine for further re-distribution. Specifically, in a machine shed on the property, Valdez Romero removed the rear seats of the vehicle, removed the fuel pump, as well as other equipment attached to the gas tank and physically helped another retrieve the methamphetamine from the two-part gas tank. During the execution of a search warrant at the property, law enforcement agents seized 15 pounds of methamphetamine from a safe inside the machine shed, and five more pounds of methamphetamine being driven away from the property, including one pound of methamphetamine from the vehicle operated by Valdez Romero. Agents also seized $700 from Valdez Romero and $900 from the other two vehicle occupants, all pre-serialized money used by agents earlier that day to purchase one pound of methamphetamine from Valdez Romero’s drug associate by confidential informants.

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Valdez Romero remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing. Valdez Romero faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a $10,000,000 fine, and at least five years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn S. Wehde and was investigated by Tri-State Drug Task Force based in Sioux City, Iowa, that consists of law enforcement personnel from Homeland Security Investigations; the Drug Enforcement Administration; Sioux City, Iowa, Police Department; Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office; South Sioux City, Nebraska, Police Department; Nebraska State Patrol; Iowa National Guard; Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement; United States Marshals Service; South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation; and Woodbury County Attorney’s Office.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to combat narcotics @HSIKansasCity.

Updated: 03/09/2022