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Southern Arizona man sentenced to 20 years for meth trafficking

PHOENIX — A southern Arizona man convicted of serving as the transportation coordinator of a methamphetamine distribution ring operating in the Southwest was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison, following a multi-agency probe led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Indalecio Castro-Ponce, 40, of San Luis, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton. In addition to the prison term, Castro-Ponce was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine. In April, a federal jury found Castro-Ponce guilty of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and two counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Although a first-time offender, Castro-Ponce received sentencing enhancements for having involved his minor children in his drug trafficking activities, for leading and organizing a drug trafficking organization and for obstructing justice by committing perjury under oath at trial.

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 Phoenix, HSI Fresno, HSI Riverside County, HSI Salt Lake City, HSI Las Vegas, 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, of the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona.