SIOUX CITY, IOWA – A man, illegally in the United States, who conspired to distribute methamphetamine while possessing a firearm was sentenced February 3, 2021, in federal court in Sioux City.
Oscar Pena-Solis, 30, from Mexico, pleaded guilty on September 16, 2020, to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
At the plea and sentencing hearings, evidence showed that on July 2, 2020, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle Pena-Solis was driving, just south of Sioux City. At the time of the stop, Pena-Solis did not have a valid driver’s permit and was in the United States illegally. During an initial search of Pena-Solis, law enforcement seized a user quantity of methamphetamine plus a methamphetamine pipe in Pena-Solis’ pocket. During a search of the vehicle, law enforcement located a loaded .22 caliber revolver under the driver’s seat. Law enforcement also seized 11 pounds of methamphetamine, in one-pound packages hidden in the vehicle and in the trailer attached thereto.
Evidence further showed that Pena-Solis, at the request and direction of another co-conspirator in Des Moines, Iowa, travelled to California with a large amount of cash provided to him, obtained the methamphetamine and travelled back to Iowa to distribute the methamphetamine to persons in Sioux City and Des Moines. Pena-Solis was prohibited from the possession of a firearm due to being an unlawful user of methamphetamine as well as his illegal status in the United States.
Sentencing was held before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. Pena-Solis was sentenced to 180 months’ of imprisonment. He must also serve a 5-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system. Pena-Solis remains in custody of the United States Marshal until he can be transported to a federal prison.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/ag/page/file/1217186/download.
The case was 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 the Drug Enforcement Administration; Sioux City, Iowa, Police Department; Homeland Security Investigations; 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.