Springfield man pleads guilty to receiving 30 pounds of methamphetamine

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A Springfield, Mo., man has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a drug-trafficking conspiracy after receiving a delivery of approximately 30 pounds of methamphetamine from California.

Saul Fernandez, 29, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool on Dec. 13, 2023, to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

By pleading guilty, Fernandez admitted that he was the intended recipient of approximately 30 pounds (13.34 kilograms) of methamphetamine that was transported to Springfield from California.

According to the plea agreement, an officer with the Kansas Highway Patrol stopped a 2021 Nissan Altima for speeding on Feb. 19, 2022. The officer searched the vehicle and found 31 packages that contained a total of approximately 30 pounds of methamphetamine. The driver was transporting the methamphetamine to Fernandez and agreed to cooperate in a controlled delivery.

The next day, DEA investigators called Fernandez, who directed the cooperator where to go and when he would be picking up the vehicle and the methamphetamine. Investigators saw Fernandez pick up the vehicle from the cooperator, stopped him a short time later walking away from the vehicle, and placed him under arrest. Fernandez had the keys to the vehicle at the time of his arrest.

Fernandez admitted to investigators that he agreed to accept the car. Although he initially claimed he did not know what was in the vehicle, Fernandez admitted that he knew his contact in California had been arrested in January 2022 with 90 pounds of methamphetamine. Fernandez also told investigators that he was supposed to receive $1,000 for picking up the car and holding it for an individual in Chicago, who would come pick the car up.

Under federal statutes, Fernandez is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John D. Hatcher. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the Kansas Highway Patrol.

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