One of four men charged in Minnesota's largest seizure of methamphetamine pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court.
Fernando Ramos-Meza, 34, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than 190 pounds of packaged meth and remains jailed ahead of sentencing Aug. 20 in Minneapolis.
"The quantities of methamphetamine coming into our state continue to rise, and the destruction that comes with it cannot be understated," U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said Wednesday in a statement.
According to Ramos-Meza's guilty plea, law enforcement officers with a drug task force searched his home in the 3600 block of N. Dupont Avenue in Minneapolis, where five adults and three children were inside, and a vehicle outside. The officers found 191 pounds of meth, a 12-gauge sawed-off pump shotgun, 1.1 ounces of tar heroin and several thousand dollars in cash, police say.
Named along with Ramos-Meza in the indictment last fall were suspected coconspirators Peter Martin, 34; Javier Lopez-Lopez, 47; and Juan D. Valdez-Mendoza, 24. Their cases are pending.
The case is described as the largest meth seizure in state history. Court papers show that it turned on the help of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant and surveillance footage seized from an Inver Grove Heights storage business allegedly used to warehouse drugs as part of a plot that traces to Kansas City and Mexico.
Law enforcement estimated that if sold wholesale, the methamphetamine would have brought in roughly $684,000. Supply has increased over the past 10 years, when the drug could have sold for about five times that. When the drug is sold to users at street level, it goes for as much as $100 a gram, which would make the seizure worth about $7.7 million, according to the task force.
The Twin Cities has become a major market in the United States for meth distribution. Many of those caught supplying Minnesota's meth have had direct ties to major, internationally known drug cartels in southern Mexico.
Ramos-Meza's problems with the law also include being in the country illegally, Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for the Twin Cities office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Wednesday.
Neudauer said Ramos-Meza is from Mexico and has been deported from the United States numerous times between 2006 and 2012.
Once Ramos-Meza completes his sentence, he'll be subject to another deportation, the ICE spokesman said.