United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that on June 12, 2019, United States District Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr., sentenced America Saucedo-Moreno to a term of imprisonment of 78 months, to be served in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Saucedo, 45 years old, of Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering. Saucedo is the final defendant of five indicted in Case Number 8:17CR375 to be sentenced in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska.
The related defendants, their counts of conviction, and the sentences imposed are as follows:
- Sara Spencer pleaded guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in a separate case filed in the District of Nebraska. On September 17, 2018, she was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of imprisonment of 120 months.
- Carlos Manriquez-Aviles pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, Use of Facilities in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Racketeering, and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering. He was sentenced on April 12, 2019, to a term of imprisonment of 168 months.
- Jorge Antonio Alonzo-Lopez pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, and was sentenced on June 14, 2019, to a term of imprisonment of 108 months. Alonzo agreed to be removed to Guatemala by immigration authorities after serving the sentence imposed in this case.
- Roman Lazcano-Acosta pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and Reentry of a Remove Alien, and was sentenced on June 21, 2019, to a term of imprisonment of 120 months. Lazcano agreed to be removed to Mexico by immigration authorities after serving the sentence imposed in this case.
- Lourdes Perez-Saucedo pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering and was sentenced on June 21, 2019, to a five-year term of probation.
“The role of IRS Criminal Investigation in narcotics investigations is to follow the money so we can financially disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations,” said Karl Stiften, Special Agent in Charge. “The laundering of illegal drug profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the very distribution of their illegal drugs.”
In the fall of 2017, investigators learned that Carlos Manriquez-Aviles, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was facilitating the distribution of methamphetamine in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metropolitan area on behalf of Mexican sources. The methamphetamine was transported to Omaha by couriers from Phoenix, Arizona. America Saucedo-Moreno and Jorge Antonio Alonzo-Lopez, of Phoenix, were two such couriers for the organization. On October 28, 2017, Alonzo contacted Manriquez and arranged to meet him at the Wal-Mart near 72nd and Hickory Streets in Omaha, Nebraska. Alonzo and Saucedo traveled from Phoenix to Omaha.
Investigators observed the parties meet at the Wal-Mart, at which time Saucedo, driving her car, and Alonzo followed Manriquez to a nearby apartment complex where they delivered approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine to Manriquez. After less than one minute, they parted ways.
Shortly after delivering the methamphetamine to Manriquez, investigators observed him travel to another location in Omaha and meet with Sara Spencer, to whom he sold approximately 3 pounds of methamphetamine. Spencer was stopped by Omaha police officers after the she purchased the methamphetamine and a canine unit was called to the scene. Officers subsequently searched Spencer’s car and recovered the methamphetamine. Spencer was arrested at that time.
Further investigation by the IRS revealed that on October 24, 2017, the Mexican source of supply directed Manriquez to deposit drug proceeds into Saucedo’s existing bank account at a Phoenix-area bank. When Manriquez was unable to complete the deposits as directed into Saucedo’s account, Saucedo’s daughter, Lourdes Perez-Saucedo, opened a Wells Fargo account and received the deposits for Saucedo. Saucedo accompanied Perez at the Wells Fargo Bank branch in Phoenix at the time Perez opened the account. The methamphetamine supplier subsequently provided Manriquez with Perez’s account number and name to use for the deposit of the funds, which followed from Wells Fargo Bank locations in Omaha, Nebraska.
Manriquez distributed additional pound and multi-pounds quantities of methamphetamine in Omaha to Roman Lazcano-Acosta on November 11 and on November 15, 2017. On November 15, 2017, investigators arrested Manriquez and Lazcano following a transaction in which Lazcano obtained six pounds of methamphetamine from Manriquez. Following his arrest, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement determined that Lazcano was a citizen and national of Mexico who had previously been ordered removed from the United States to Mexico in 2014.
Saucedo and Alonzo were arrested by investigators on a return trip to Omaha from Phoenix on November 16, 2017. Perez was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, in December of 2017, for her role in receiving drug proceeds in her Wells Fargo account.
“This investigation illustrates the level of wholesale drug trafficking organizations that are infiltrating and saturating our communities with methamphetamine,” Special Agent in Charge Richard Salter Jr. said. “Furthermore, despite being 1,600 miles from the U.S. / Mexico border, the Mexican Drug Cartels’ supply chains and reach into our communities are ever-present and increasing. I applaud the teamwork of all the law enforcement agencies, and especially the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nebraska for exerting the full force of the law to hold these criminals accountable for infecting our communities with this poison.”
The case was primarily investigated by the Omaha Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Omaha Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.