BY KEN LITTLE
A Greene County man involved in a conspiracy to distribute four pounds of methamphetamine in the Tri-Cities area was sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Greeneville to a prison term of 15 years and eight months.
Jose Cruz Guevara Cazarez, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.
All other counts in his indictment were dismissed by federal prosecutors in exchange for the guilty plea.
U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer sentenced Cazarez on Monday.
Cazarez was also given five years of supervised release by Greer, but will likely be deported to Mexico following release from prison, according to the sentencing memorandum on file.
The conditions of supervised release for Cazarez state that, if he is deported, "you shall not re-enter the United States without the permission of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Homeland Security."
Jose Cazarez is the last of three family members sentenced in connection with the drug conspiracy, which involves the second-largest quantity of the highly addictive drug ever seized in Upper East Tennessee.
ROLE IN CRIME
Court documents state that Cazarez assisted in January 2012 with the transportation of more than four pounds of meth from Oklahoma to Limestone.
Law enforcement officers conducted an undercover operation in late January 2012 that resulted in the seizure of the methamphetamine at Cazarez' house on Bailey Bridge Road in Limestone.
"In considering the defendants' role in this offense, it is noted that the defendant stipulated to conspiring to distribute at least four pounds of methamphetamine and the purity value for one of the packages of [meth] was 92.9 percent," according to Cazarez' sentencing memorandum.
"All the methamphetamine was seized from inside the defendant's residence, or in a shed directly behind it.
"Also, not only did agents find a .22 long rifle inside the defendant's residence, but the evidence also shows that the defendant involved his son, co-defendant Habraham Enrique Guevara, in the methamphetamine conspiracy," the sentencing memorandum states.
SON DOING PRISON TIME
Habraham Enrique Guevara, 26, was sentenced in January by Greer to 84 months in prison "for his role as a translator, lookout and transporter in the conspiracy."
Court documents state that Jose Guevara Cazarez and his son, Enrique, conspired with Arnoldo Guevera Cazarez, brother of Jose Cazarez and uncle of Enrique Guevera, "to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute the methamphetamine."
Enrique Guevara had no prior criminal record. He lived for years in the Telford area of Washington County and graduated from David Crockett High School.
As a result of the criminal conspiracy conviction, Enrique Guevara was told by Greer at sentencing that he will likely be deported to Mexico upon release from prison, even though he has lived in the United States since being brought here at age 2 by his mother.
All of Guevera's younger siblings were born in the U.S. and are American citizens.
'MAIN SOURCE' SENTENCED
Arnoldo Guevara Cazarez, 49, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.
He was sentenced in January by Greer to serve a federal prison term of 235 months, or nearly 18 years.
Arnoldo Cazarez, of Oklahoma City, Okla., arranged in January 2012 for the transportation of more than four pounds of meth from Oklahoma to Limestone, personally transporting two pounds of the drug to Tennessee, according to court documents.
"Guevara, his brother, Jose Cruz Guevara [Cazarez], and his nephew, Habraham Enrique Guevara [Cazarez], conspired to bring four pounds of high-quality Mexican methamphetamine from Oklahoma City to sell in Upper East Tennessee. All four pounds were found at the Guevara family home in Limestone," according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Arnoldo Guevara was the main source of supply for the four pounds of methamphetamine. He set the price and directed the activities of others with regard to the transportation and ultimate delivery of the methamphetamine," the release said.
The investigation resulted in the conviction of six individuals, all natives of Sinaloa, Mexico, who were illegally present in the United States, the release said.
Arnoldo Guevara had been deported from the United States on four prior occasions, but was living in Oklahoma during the period of the conspiracy, prosecutors said.
Jose Cruz Guevara Cazarez was also scheduled to be sentenced in January, but Greer continued the sentencing hearing until this week so he could review documents related to the man's pre-sentencing report with his lawyer and an interpreter.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Smith reminded Greer of the quantity of meth seized in the investigation before he sentenced Cazarez.
Smith and Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor prosecuted the case for the government. They recommended a sentence of between 188 and 235 months for Jose Cruz Guevara Cazarez.
In addition to the 188-month sentence imposed by Greer on Cazarez, the judge also recommended he receive 500 hours of substance abuse treatment from the Bureau of Prisons' (BOP) Institution Residential Drug Abuse Program.
Greer recommended Cazarez serve his time in the BOP federal facility in Manchester, Ky., "or alternatively a facility as close to his home as possible which offers the drug treatment program," the sentencing memorandum said.