Street value estimated at $4.5 million; defendants will serve at least 10 years in prison
Luis Manuel Sanchez-Lopez, whose date of birth is unknown, was this third person to plead guilty connected to the seizure of 92 pounds of methamphetamine during a Feb. 8 traffic stop in South Dakota by the State Patrol.
The other two defendants — Arturo Juarez Madrigal, of Eagan, and Abraham Suazo, 36, unknown residence — entered guilty pleas in June and May for their roles in the case filed in the Minneapolis court.
Suazo was arrested during the traffic stop, and he later told law enforcement officials that he was to deliver the meth from California to Madrigal’s residence in Eagan.
Law enforcement officers set up a controlled purchase of meth at Madrigal’s residence when the two Eagan men were arrested as an additional 9.6 pounds of meth were located inside the residence along with $118,500 in U.S. currency.
“To the best of our knowledge, this was the largest single seizure of methamphetamine destined for Minnesota this year,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley Endicott. “One-hundred pounds of methamphetamine represents an indescribable harm to the community. The Department of Homeland Security and our local law enforcement partners deserve great credit for their investigative efforts and success in taking these dangerous drugs off the street.”
One hit of meth is about a quarter of a gram and will cost a user about $25, according a PBS-TV “Frontline” report on the meth epidemic in America.
Using this calculation, a pound of meth (more than 1,800 doses) is worth about $45,000 on the street, placing the total amount of meth seized in this case at an estimated $4.5 million.
“Super labs,” some of which have be shut down in California, are able to produce more than 100,000 doses of meth, while home labs are able to produce about 300 doses, according to “Frontline.”
At the time of the search, Sanchez-Lopez was in the house and had used various chemicals, including acetone, to “wash” the methamphetamine to make it clear or white.
All three defendants face a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, which is what the federal government requires for first-time methamphetamine traffickers with possession of more than 50 grams of meth.
There are 1.4 million meth users in America, and the number is rising, according to “Frontline.”
The National Association of Counties reports that users are high school and college students and white and blue collar-workers as well as people in their 20s and 30s who are unemployed, according to “Frontline,” and are more likely to be white men.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department, the Rapid City Police Department, the St. Paul Police Department, the Minneapolis Police Department, and the South Dakota State Patrol.