Carmelo Valdez Romero, 35, from Sioux City, Iowa, was convicted of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine on February 25, 2022, after a 4-day jury trial.
Evidence at trial and sentencing 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. The methamphetamine was intended for redistribution in northwest Iowa. 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 the cash was pre-serialized money used by agents earlier that day to purchase one pound of methamphetamine from Valdez Romero’s drug associate.
Sentencing was held before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. Valdez Romero was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment and must serve a term of five years supervised release following any imprisonment. There is no parole in the federal system. Valdez Romero remains in custody of the United States Marshal until he can be transported to a federal prison.
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, as well as the Dickenson County Sheriff’s Department, the Iowa State Patrol and other members of the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 20-4051. Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.