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— Twelve members of a large

Northwest Arkansas methamphetamine ring broken up last

year received prison sentences ranging from 12 years, seven

months to three years, five months.

The leader of the ring, Juan Carrillo of Gentry, was not

among those sentenced over three days this week by U.S.

District Judge Jimm L. Hendren. His sentencing was delayed

and probably will be rescheduled in the next 30 days, accord

ing to the U.S. attorney's office.

Carrillo pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering in

a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. In return for

the plea, charges of conspiracy to distribute more than 50

grams of methamphetamine, using a phone in the conspiracy

and two counts of possession with intent to distribute more

than 500 grams of methamphetamine were dismissed.

The plea agreement states he could be sentenced to up to

20 years in prison and fined up to $500,000.

According to federal court records, Carrillo, an illegal alien,

used a group of people to import methamphetamine from

California, Texas and Kansas and to distribute it around

Northwest Arkansas.

Carrillo himself was arrested Sept. 21 after police caught

him switching vehicles in Siloam Springs with a courier who

had just brought in 5 1 /2 pounds of methamphetamine from

California that was hidden inside the car's dashboard.

Twelve others, including Carrillo's wife Lucia, were arrest

ed in the following days. Lucia Carrillo was sentenced

Thursday to three years, six months in prison and was fined

$15,000.

She pleaded guilty to using a phone in the furtherance of

the conspiracy. Charges of distribution of methamphetamine

and money laundering were dismissed.

One of the persons from whom Carrillo bought metham

phetamine, German Zepeda of Arkansas City, Kan., drew the

stiffest sentence so far, 12 years, seven months and a $30,000fine. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Charges of money laundering and using a phone to further the conspiracy were dismissed.

Zepeda's father, Victor Zepeda, also of Arkansas City, was sentenced to seven years, three months and fined $15,000 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Money laundering and phone use charges were dismissed.

Jaime Valencia Del Monte of Moreno Valley, Calif., the courier who switched cars with Carrillo on Sept. 21, was sentenced to three years, five months in prison and fined $7,500. He had pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

Other players in the ring who were sentenced this week were:

Jose Alvarado of Joplin, Mo. He got 10 years and a $15,000 fine for pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

Luis Yanez-Martinez of Springdale. He got five years and a $10,000 fine on a guilty plea of distribution of methamphetamine.

Adan Casarez of Monet, Mo. He got four years, three months and a $10,000 fine on a guilty plea of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

Carlos Quiroz of Springdale. He got four years, three months and a $10,000 fine on a guilty plea of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

Efrain Estrada-Gomez of Springdale. He got three years, 10 months and a $10,000 fine on a guilty plea of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

Adrian Avelar of Los Angeles. He got three years, five months and a $7,500 fine on a guilty plea of possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

Leonardo Gonzalez of Monet, Mo. He got three years, five months and a $7,500 fine on a guilty plea of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

Sentencing information on Saul Alvarez Sifuentes of Lowell, who was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday, was not available before the court closed for the day.

Community, Pages 8 on 08/19/2009

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