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12 Members of Drug Trafficking Operation Sentenced to Total of Over 80 Years in Federal Prison

JUN 24 (FORT SMITH, Ark.) –Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam and Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that 12 defendants who were all part of a drug trafficking organization in the Fort Smith area were sentenced to federal prison this week. 

“The successful prosecution of the members of this major drug trafficking organization should be a warning to others who engage in this type of activity,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam.  “This case highlights the impact multiple agencies can have when they join forces. We will continue to work together and pursue those who threaten our communities through the smuggling and distribution of illegal and dangerous drugs and bring them to justice.”

Six pounds of packaged methamphetamine seized in September 2015.
Six pounds of packaged methamphetamine seized in September 2015.

According to court records, in November 2014, law enforcement in Fort Smith learned that large quantities of methamphetamine were being distributed in the area by Armando Picazo, Jose Mendez (who has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced at later date), and other members of a drug trafficking organization.  Over the course of the next several months, investigators conducted six separate controlled purchases from Mendez and his associates.  In early June 2015, Picazo and Mendez made arrangements for Mendez to travel to California to pick up a large amount of methamphetamine and bring it back to Fort Smith for distribution.  On his way back from California in mid-June, Mendez was stopped for a traffic violation in Fort Smith and approximately 11 pounds of methamphetamine was seized by law enforcement.  In September 2015, Armando Picazo and Ascencion Salas-Macias arranged the purchase of approximately six pounds of methamphetamine which were seized by law enforcement. 

Each of the defendants was indicted by a federal grand jury in September, 2015, and each has pleaded guilty to the following charges.

 An open package of methamphetamine from the six pounds seized in September 2015. An open package of methamphetamine from the six pounds seized in September 2015.
 An open package of methamphetamine from the six pounds seized in September 2015.

•           Armando Picazo, age 30 of Fort Smith, was sentenced to 240 months in federal prison and five years of supervised release on each of two counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute More than 50 Grams of Actual Methamphetamine, Aiding and Abetting.  The sentences will run concurrent with each other. 
 
•           Ascencion Salas-Macias, age 31, of Fort Smith, was sentenced to 151 months in federal prison and five years of supervised release for Possession with Intent to Distribute More than 50 Grams of Actual Methamphetamine, Aiding and Abetting
 
•           Amber Nicole Cottrell, age 28 of Fort Smith, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
 
•           Casey Allen Cottrell, age 31, of Fort Smith, was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
 
•           John Wayne Davis, age 41, of Cabot, was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
 
•           Aris Orellana, age 29, of Fort Smith, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
 
•           Erick Padilla, age 35, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
 
•           Maria D. Jesus Martinez, age 33, of Fort Smith, was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
 
•           Joseph Glenn Kutter, age 31 of Van Buren, was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
 
•           Jose Quinones, age 37, of Fort Smith, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
 
•           Melinda Sue Quinones, age 39, of Fort Smith, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison and two years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
 
•           Noel Ramirez-Osorio, age 31, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine

Three additional defendants in this case - Jose Mendez, Jose Christian Lemus-Vanegas, and Roxana Cardona, have all pleaded guilty to drug charges and will be sentenced at a later date. 

Agencies that took part in the investigation were the DEA, the Fort Smith Police Department, the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office, and the 12th Judicial District Drug Task Force. 

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.

 

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