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Ceres Man Pleads Guilty To 15-Pound Methamphetamine Deal In Kern County

FRESNO, Calif. — Jose Manuel Sotelo-Mendoza, 26, of Ceres, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, Sotelo and his co-defendant Oscar Ivan Salazar-Avalos, 28, a citizen of Mexico, delivered 15 pounds of methamphetamine to an undercover officer in Delano after Salazar negotiated with the officer to sell the drug for $3,400 per pound. In pleading guilty, Salazar acknowledged that he and Sotelo had met his source of supply in Castaic in the northern part of Los Angeles County to obtain the 15 pounds of methamphetamine. In addition, Salazar indicated that they intended to make $51,000 on the deal.

Salazar is scheduled for sentencing on April 8, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd. Sotelo is scheduled for sentencing on May 13, 2019. They both face a minimum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, along with a $10 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, consisting of law enforcement officers of Homeland Security Investigations, California Highway Patrol, Bureau of Investigation of the California Department of Justice, Fresno Police Department, and Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.

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