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FAYETTEVILLE -- Fifteen people have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in a methamphetamine trafficking ring that operated in Benton and Washington counties and in California, Oklahoma, Illinois, Arizona and Mexico.

The investigation and prosecution lasted from mid-2017 through Tuesday's final sentencing hearing.

The drug trafficking ring was responsible for ferrying meth into Northwest Arkansas from California and Mexico. Cash from the sales was loaded in vehicles and driven back to Mexico as payment, according to prosecutors. The individuals were arrested in operations conducted by the Drug Enforcement Adminstration in conjunction with the Fayetteville and Springdale police and were indicted by a federal grand jury in June.

Defendants received the following sentences:

• Pedro Zambrano, 23, of Phoenix was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Zambrano pleaded guilty Sept. 7.

• Alexis Rios-Tamayo, 21, of Phoenix was sentenced Jan. 22 to three years, five months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Rios-Tamayo pleaded guilty Aug. 10.

• Eduwijes Cervantes-Mendoza, 58, a Mexican citizen residing in Springdale, was sentenced Jan. 22 to 17 years, six months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of distribution of methamphetamine. Cervantes-Mendoza pleaded guilty Sept. 7.

• Santana Gonzales-Aguirre, 45, a Mexican citizen residing in Bentonville, was sentenced Feb. 6 to one year, three months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Gonzales-Aguirre pleaded guilty Sept. 7.

• Gregory Miranda, 23, of Ventura, Calif., was sentenced Feb. 6 to one year, three months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Miranda pleaded guilty Sept. 21.

• Michael Shannon Howard, 52, of Green Forest was sentenced Feb. 6 to two years, nine months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Howard pleaded guilty July 16.

• John Paul Farias, 39, of Springdale was sentenced Feb. 6 to 10 years, one month in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Farias pleaded guilty Sept. 28.

• Miguel Saldana, 24, of Boone County was sentenced April 1 to 10 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Saldana pleaded guilty Sept. 28.

• Sarahi Flores-Quintero, 22, of Phoenix was sentenced Feb. 5 to three years, four months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Flores-Quintero pleaded guilty Sept. 28.

• Victor Sanchez-Hernandez, 47, a Mexican citizen residing in Hindsville, was sentenced Feb. 5 to 20 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of distribution of methamphetamine. Sanchez-Hernandez pleaded guilty July 9.

• Jose Octavio Sanchez, 21, of Hindsville was sentenced Feb. 5 to one year in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm. Sanchez pleaded guilty Sept. 28.

• Elizabeth Ramirez, 30, of Springdale was sentenced Feb. 5 to three years, eight months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Ramirez pleaded guilty June 25.

• Jesus "Don Chuey" Ramirez-Santoyo, 63, of Tulsa, was sentenced Feb. 5 to four years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Ramirez-Santoyo pleaded guilty Sept. 7.

The prosecution was part of the Western District of Arkansas' Operation Ozark Express, which is part of the Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force program. The principal mission of the program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug-trafficking and money-laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation's illicit drug supply.

U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the cases.

Metro on 04/03/2019

Print Headline: Drug-ring roles get time for 15

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