BILLINGS – A Mexican citizen convicted following an investigation where law enforcement seized 34 pounds of meth worth an estimated $1.5 million from a hotel room was sentenced to 57 months in prison and five years of supervised release on Wednesday.
Jorge Luis Mendez-Sanchez, 35, of Mexico, pleaded guilty in January to possession with intent to distribute meth, according to a press release issued Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Montana.
Thirty-four pounds of meth is the equivalent of about 123,216 doses and has an estimated street value of $1.54 million.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters imposed the sentence.
Prosecutors said in court records that a confidential informant for the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force learned in July 2018 from a source of meth named Oscar that a relative was flying to Billings from Salt Lake City to conduct the sale of 35 pounds of meth.
The meth was coming from Oscar’s associates, who included Mendez-Sanchez and co-defendant, Aldo Pardini.
Agents identified another co-defendant, Jose Jesus Islava-Lopez, as Oscar’s relative and followed him from the Billings airport to a Billings hotel. Islava-Lopez checked into a room and met with Pardini in the parking lot.
Pardini and Mendez-Sanchez, who were staying together in a separate room, had transported the meth for the proposed sale together from Arizona in Pardini’s car.
Agents detained Islava-Lopez in the lobby. Islava-Lopez told the agents that Oscar had directed him to fly to Billings for a job, rent a room at the hotel and meet a person in a car in the parking lot.
After meeting Pardini in the parking lot, Islava-Lopez went to the room shared by Pardini and Mendez-Sanchez and took a suitcase Pardini gave him back to his own room.
Investigators served search warrants on both hotel rooms and the vehicle and found about 34 pounds of meth in Islava-Lopez’s room.
Islava-Lopez and Pardini have pleaded guilty in the case and are awaiting sentencing.