News Release
Date: May 14, 2012
Contact: Mia Ro, PIO
Number: 954-660-4602

Methamphetamine Distributors Sentenced

May 14 (Tampa, FL) - Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, and Robert E. O'Neill, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, announced today that U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore sentenced Luis Paniagua, 28, Dade City, and Chris Andrew, 45, Dade City, for conspiring with each other, and others, to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Paniagua was sentenced to 120 months and Andrew was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison. The differences in the sentencing are due to Andrew’s prior criminal history. Both pled guilty on August 9, 2011.

According to court documents, Paniagua and Andrew were part of a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that smuggled large quantities of high-purity methamphetamine (“ice”) to Florida from California. In April 2011, this DTO transported three pounds of “ice,” concealed inside a Lincoln Navigator from San Bernardino County, California to Lakeland, Florida. On April 19, 2011, while Paniagua was attempting to remove the three pounds of “ice” from the Navigator in Lakeland, DEA agents arrived and obtained consent to search the vehicle. Agents located and seized the drugs and arrested Paniagua and Andrew.

This case was investigated by DEA, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation's illegal drug supply.