Mexican national sentenced to 11 years for meth trafficking on I-70

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A Mexican national has been sentenced in federal court after more than 88 pounds of methamphetamine was found in the trunk of a car in which he was traveling on Interstate 70.

Juan Emilio Gomez-Padilla, 32, who was residing in Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Beth Phillips on Thursday, May 30, to 11 years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Gomez-Padilla to forfeit to the government $5,505 that was seized by law enforcement.

On Jan. 5, 2024, Gomez-Padilla pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. He admitted that he was a passenger in a car that was carrying more than 88 pounds of methamphetamine in the trunk when it was stopped by a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper in Saline County, Missouri, on April 5, 2021.

Gomez-Padilla is the third and final defendant to be sentenced in this case. Co-defendants Jose Alfredo Renteria-Rojas, 35, and his brother, Gustavo Renteria-Rojas, 40, who are both citizens of Mexico residing in Chicago, have each been sentenced to 11 years and six months in federal prison without parole. They each pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and to illegally possessing a firearm.

All three defendants were in a white 2011 Volkswagen Jetta driven by Gustavo Renteria-Rojas on eastbound Interstate 70 that was stopped by a state trooper in Saline County. As Jose Renteria-Rojas was getting out of the vehicle, the state trooper saw a loaded Smith & Wesson .380-caliber handgun that contained a magazine as well as an extra magazine in the door pocket. The trooper found four white cardboard boxes in the trunk, which contained 36 packages of methamphetamine that weighed a total of 88.7 pounds. The trooper also found $5,505 in cash in the car.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Q. McCarther. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

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