The Sting: Three Mexican nationals in Kansas City sentenced for meth conspiracy

Three Mexican nationals were sentenced in federal court last week for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine.

Alfredo Soto-Contreras, 38, of Kansas City, Missouri, was sentenced on June 18 in the U. S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, to 10 years and 10 months in federal prison without parole. Omar Eliseo Barraza-Bueno, 32, of Arvin, California, was sentenced on June 18 to 18 years in federal prison without parole. Rey Moreno-Chepe, 26, of Kansas City, Missouri, was sentenced on June 17 to 11 years and eight months in federal prison without parole.

All three defendants pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from May to December 2018. Each one also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to use firearms in a drug-trafficking crime, and one count of using a firearm in a drug-trafficking crime. Both Barraza-Bueno and Moreno-Chepe also pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

The investigation ended on December 18, 2018, when the three defendants named above plus Nayeli Fuentes-Verdugo, a Mexican national who is the wife of Omar Eliseo Barraza-Bueno, were arrested while in the possession of approximately 25 pounds of methamphetamine, during an undercover operation. The co-conspirators sold or attempted to sell approximately 13 kilograms of methamphetamine to an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The co-conspirators also sold eight firearms to the same undercover agent, including several that had been reported as stolen.

The Sting: 25 pounds of methamphetamine sold to a federal agent

The following describes how the Kansas City meth trafficking ring was taken down, as explained by U.S. government attorneys and recorded in a court document.

On December 17, 2018, an ATF undercover agent sat in a restaurant with the four defendants and arranged for a sale of 25 pounds of methamphetamine, to take place on the following day. After the sale, the defendants were to travel in caravan with the undercover agent to Chicago, so the agent could (so they were led to believe) sell to another party. In confirming the logistics of the transaction with Barraza-Bueno, it was established that everyone would meet at an agreed-upon location for the sale, but that only three would continue on to Chicago.

The following day, December 18, was the date of the transaction. The undercover agent initially met with Omar Eliseo Barraza-Bueno and Rey Moreno-Chepe at the agreed-upon location, which was a warehouse. The purpose of the meeting was to conduct the sale of 25 pounds of methamphetamine, and then to continue on in a caravan to Chicago, as planned. While discussing the next steps in the plan, the ATF agent asked Barraza-Bueno to get everyone down to the location as originally discussed on the preceding day.

Barraza-Bueno then sent a text presumably directing that two others, co-defendants Daniel Calderon-Vargas and Nayeli Fuentes-Verdugo, come to the location. It only took five minutes for them to arrive. Once they pulled up to the location, Calderon-Vargas entered the building while Fuentes-Verdugo remained in the passenger seat of the vehicle in which she arrived.

Calderon-Vargas then went over and beckoned for Fuentes-Verdugo to come inside. After she entered the location, the ATF agent closed the open door. The defendants then calmly and casually gathered around a table in the warehouse, and weighed out twenty five pounds of methamphetamine that had been brought by Barraza-Bueno. After the amount of methamphetamine was confirmed, the undercover agent used a rouse to separate himself from the four defendants. Once the agent was at a safe distance, several law enforcement agents entered the warehouse and took the defendants into custody.