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Turlock man prison bound for role in drug smuggling ring
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A Turlock man acting as a cash courier in a methamphetamine trafficking scheme between in the Central Valley and Hawaii has been sentenced to one year in prison, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

The drug smuggling case was the product of a multi-agency investigation and resulted in the arrest of the Turlock resident, along with three Delhi men and one Modesto man.

Guillermo Paredes, Jr., 26, of Turlock was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison for conspiracy to smuggle bulk cash, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported. During the same hearing, Armando Mendoza, 21, of Modesto, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office previously obtained convictions against Miguel Leontapia, 33, Gilberto Chavez Leon, 29, and Eduardo Leon, 28, all of Delhi, in the same scheme.

On August 8, 2012, Mendoza took a package containing approximately 1 ½ pounds of methamphetamine to a shipping facility for delivery to Hawaii, but the package was intercepted by law enforcement. In that same month law enforcement caught Leontapia, and Eduardo Leon attempting to ship three pounds of methamphetamine to Hawaii, the Department of Justice reported.

On August 16, 2012, Paredes and Gilberto Leon were arrested at the Honolulu airport while waiting for a return flight to California.  Paredes had about $42,000 cash concealed on his person and in his luggage while Gilberto Leon had about $29,000 cash similarly concealed.  Law enforcement seized the cash.  

Leontapia and Eduardo Leon have pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and Gilberto Leon pled guilty to conspiracy to bulk smuggle cash. The three men are scheduled to be sentenced March 2.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency and the Modesto Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Rooney prosecuted the case.