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Mexican drug trafficker sentenced to 19 years

BOISE, Idaho — A Mexican man was sentenced Monday to 19 years in federal prison for conspiring to distribute drugs and possessing a firearm while trafficking drugs, following a probe by the Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jose Ramon Escobedo-Gonzales, 35, is the final defendant to be sentenced in connection with the case. Escobedo-Gonzales admitted that from late 2009 until early 2011 he and his co-defendants conspired to distribute more than five pounds of methamphetamine in Canyon County, Idaho. According to trial testimony, the organization brought methamphetamine into Idaho from surrounding states and distributed it throughout the Treasure Valley. Escobedo-Gonzalez also admitted in his plea agreement to knowingly exchanging various firearms for methamphetamine and possessing firearms for protection while engaged in drug transactions.

"Appropriately, Mr. Escobedo-Gonzalez and his co-conspirators will spend lengthy terms in federal prison," said U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson. "Methamphetamine trafficking and firearms are a dangerous combination for Idaho's communities. We will continue to work closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to ensure that those who bring this horribly addictive drug into our state and those who further their criminal activity with firearms are identified, prosecuted and sent to prison."

Ten other co-defendants have been convicted in this case and together have received more than 75 years in prison. During the investigation, law enforcement officers seized five pounds of methamphetamine, marijuana, numerous firearms, vehicles, and more than $30,000 in cash.

This OCDETF case, named "Operation Flamethrower," was the result of a yearlong, multi-agency investigation. Investigators and prosecutors from federal, state, and local agencies cooperated in the arrests and seizures. It included the cooperative law enforcement efforts of HSI; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Idaho State Police; the Nampa, Caldwell and Boise police departments; Canyon County and Ada County Sheriff's Offices, the Canyon County SWAT team, the Metro Violent Crimes Task Force; the Canyon County Prosecutor's Office; Idaho District 3 Probation and Parole and the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Idaho.