Hawarden Meth Dealer gets 4 Years in Prison

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Methamphetamine also known as crystal meth

HAWARDEN, IOWA – A man who possessed with intent to distribute methamphetamine was sentenced on February 11, 2021, to more than 4 years in federal prison.

Ernesto Soto, 31, from Hawarden, Iowa, pled guilty on August 13, 2020, to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Evidence at the plea and sentencing hearings showed that on February 5, 2020, Woodbury County Sheriff’s Deputies conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle Soto was traveling in. Upon conducting a probable cause search within the vehicle, law enforcement discovered approximately 32 grams methamphetamine, 1.6 grams cocaine, baggies, and a glass smoking device with residue located in a black bag that belonged to Soto.  The methamphetamine and cocaine were concealed in a can with a false bottom.  At least 5 grams of the approximately 32 grams was pure methamphetamine.  In May 19, 2014, Soto was convicted in the Iowa District Court for Sioux County, of intent to manufacture/deliver methamphetamine under 5 grams.

Sentencing was held before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Soto was sentenced to 50 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a term of 3 years of supervised release following imprisonment.  There is no parole in the federal system.  Soto remains in custody of the United States Marshal until he can be transported to a federal prison.


The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Patrick T. Greenwood 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.

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