Drug Trafficker Who Preyed on Native Americans is Sentenced to Life in Prison
Cheyenne, Wyoming- Matthew H. Mead, United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming, Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Rocky Mountain Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Kurt Dobbs, Director of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), announced today that Jesus Martin Sagaste-Cruz was sentenced to life in prison by United States District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson on June 6, 2005. Sagaste-Cruz was convicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and distribution of methamphetamine, in violation of United States Code 846 and 841 (a) (1).
The District Court had the discretion to sentence Sagaste-Cruz from a penalty range of 20 years to life in prison and chose to impose the life sentence. Judge Johnson said that, “sentencing in a case like this is not something that is done lightly.” The Judge also stated, “It sends a strong message out to the public of the Court’s abhorrence of the poison of methamphetamine…The sentence imposed certainly does express the Government’s strong desire to inform the public and this defendant as to the danger and injuries that are caused by methamphetamine. It is a sad thing, certainly a sad commentary upon America, that there is such an appetite for this controlled substance so as to stimulate and offer incentives to men like Martin Sagaste-Cruz to violate the laws of the United States as a business. And that’s what this was, a business, pure and simple, to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine.”
The investigation and prosecution of Sagaste-Cruz found Sagaste-Cruz to be responsible for distributing in excess of 99 pounds of methamphetamine to residents of Fremont County and the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, and additional quantities of methamphetamine to the Santee Reservation in Nebraska, and the Rosebud Indian Reservation, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
United States Attorney Matthew H. Mead stated, “Prosecuting those who choose to traffic drugs on the Wind River Indian Reservation will remain a top priority of this office. None of the law-abiding people of the Wind River Indian Reservation should have to suffer the pains of drug distribution to satisfy the greed of individuals like Segaste-Cruz. The message of a life sentence is that drug dealers will not be tolerated on the Wind River Indian Reservation.”
The successful investigation and prosecution of Sagaste-Cruz is the direct result of a co-operative effort between federal, state and local enforcement to bring Sagaste-Cruz to justice.
“Sagaste-Cruz designed his drug trafficking operation to exploit jurisdictional loop holes. Sagaste-Cruz erroneously thought that he could operate with impunity on Indian Reservations. Sagaste-Cruz is a predator who targeted Native Americans in order to make a profit. Today, the United States has sent a strong message to those who would attempt to follow in his footsteps, you will be caught, prosecuted and sentenced to the fullest extent of the law no matter where you deal your poison.” stated Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Rocky Mountain Division.
The following organizations assisted in the successful conclusion of this investigation:
Riverton Police Department, Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Wind River Police Department, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the District of Wyoming United States Attorney’s Office. This case was prosecuted by L. Robert Murray, Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming.