Mexican national sentenced to 15 years in prison without parole for drug trafficking and illegal firearms

Drug Trafficking

A Mexican national was sentenced in federal court today for illegally selling more than a dozen firearms and a large amount of methamphetamine and heroin to undercover federal agents.

Heladio Lezama-Palma, 36, a citizen of Mexico who was residing in Kansas City, Missouri, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Lezama-Palma, who has been in federal custody since his arrest, was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal immediately after the hearing to begin serving his sentence.

On April 15, 2021, Lezama-Palma pleaded guilty to one count of distributing heroin, one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, one count of being an illegal alien in possession of firearms, and one count of illegally reentering the United States after having been deported.

Lezama-Palma admitted that he sold firearms and illegal drugs to two undercover Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents on three separate occasions between July 2, 2018, and Oct. 30, 2018. Among those transactions, Lezama-Palma sold 13.38 grams of heroin to an undercover agent.

Lezama-Palma was arrested on Nov. 7, 2018, when he arrived to conduct an arranged fourth transaction. Lezama-Palma had agreed to sell two kilograms of methamphetamine and seven firearms for $20,000 to an undercover federal agent. The transaction was planned at a grocery store parking lot in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City police officers arrested Lezama-Palma when he arrived at the parking lot. Officers searched his Cadillac Escalade and found a black duffle bag that contained approximately two kilograms of methamphetamine, five pistols, and two rifles (a Taurus 9mm pistol, a Millennium .40-caliber pistol, a Glock 9mm pistol, a Glock .40-caliber pistol, a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol, a Mac 90 Sporter 7.62mm rifle, and a DTI-15 5.56mm rifle).

In addition to the conduct to which he specifically pleaded guilty, Lezama-Palma also admitted that he sold three firearms to an undercover HSI agent in Kansas on July 2, 2018. At that time, he told the undercover agent he could sell kilogram-quantities of methamphetamine for $7,500 per kilogram. Lezama-Palma also admitted that he sold approximately a kilogram of pure methamphetamine to an undercover HSI agent on July 31, 2018.

Lezama-Palma had been legally removed from the United States on June 8, 2012, but unlawfully reentered the country. According to court documents, he was ordered to voluntarily leave the United States on two other occasions.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brent Venneman and Gregg R. Coonrod. It was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.