Two Idaho Men Enter Guilty Pleas to Drug Trafficking Conspiracy
POCATELLO – A Murtaugh man and a Pocatello man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
Between January 1 and March 24, 2021, Antonio Verduzco-Arreola, 40, of Murtaugh, and Joseph Alexander Huber, 35, of Pocatello, entered into an agreement to distribute controlled substances in the Pocatello area. On March 21, 2021, two pounds of methamphetamine was abandoned in a Pocatello hotel room rented by Verduzco-Arreola. On March 24, 2021, Pocatello Police officers conducted surveillance near the hotel in Pocatello. Officers observed Huber meet with both Verduzco-Arreola and a third co-defendant. Verduzco-Arreola was later contacted by law enforcement and found in possession of 439 grams of counterfeit oxycodone that contained fentanyl. When Huber was arrested on April 30, 2021, police officers found 82 grams of methamphetamine in Huber’s possession and 167 grams of methamphetamine in his hotel room.
On March 29, 2022, Verduzco-Arreola pleaded guilty to entering into an agreement with his codefendants to distribute fentanyl. Verduzco-Arreola is scheduled to be sentenced on June 14, 2022, before Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye and faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
On March 30, 2022, Huber pleaded guilty to entering into an agreement with his co-defendants to distribute methamphetamine. Huber is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2022, before Chief Judge Nye and faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in federal prison.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr., of the District of Idaho made the announcement and commended the cooperative efforts of the Pocatello Police Department, Idaho State Police, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which led to charges.
This case was handled by the U.S. Attorney Office’s specially deputized Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA), funded by the Eastern Idaho Partnership (EIP) and the State of Idaho. The EIP is a coalition of local city and county officials in eastern Idaho as well as the Idaho Department of Correction.
The EIP SAUSA program allows law enforcement to utilize the federal criminal justice system – through the EIP SAUSA – to prosecute, convict, and sentence violent, armed criminals and drug traffickers. These criminals often receive stiffer penalties than they might in state courts.
This program was created in January 2016. Since that time, approximately 186 defendants have been indicted by the EIP SAUSA. Of these defendants, 139 have been indicted on drug trafficking charges. The defendants indicted under the program have been sentenced to 7,982 months (approximately 665 years) in federal prison, representing an average prison sentence of 53.21 months (4.43 years). Defendants indicted for drug trafficking offenses serve, on average, approximately 57.86 (4.8 years) in federal prison.