Driver of meth loaded car stopped in 2018 sentenced to 70 months

A man who was arrested at a 2018 traffic stop, traveling from California to Georgia in a car after discovering 18 pounds of methamphetamine, was sentenced Thursday to five years and 10 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson in Little Rock. was heard.

Marcelino Gonzalez, a South Carolina resident, and Jamileth Casares, a fellow from Georgia, are stopped on Interstate 40 near Lonok on September 18, 2018, by Arkansas State Police Trooper Josh Elmore, who arrested the couple after Casares was discovered . The car carried 18 bundles of methamphetamine, each weighing a pound, hidden in the trunk in both fender wells.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in federal court on September 20, 2018, Elmore observed a 2013 Ford Fusion with a Georgia license plate on Interstate 40 after a tractor-trailer rig. The affidavit said the driver pulled over when the car passed over the white fog line.

In the passenger seat, Casares told Elmore that the driver, Gonzalez, did not speak English, and added that the two were returning to Georgia from a three-day trip with a friend in Arizona, but he was unable to tell her the city. Traveled or friend’s name.

The affidavit states that following the discovery of methamphetamine, Casares told police that the pair had gone to Arizona to meet with Gonzalez’s cousin, who was in Mexicali, Mexico, and was trying to enter the US illegally. Had been. But then she added that the two had traveled to Long Beach, Calif. Where two people picked up the car and after four hours left it in the parking lot of the supermarket. She said the two were on their way back to Georgia when Elmore pulled them over.

In August 2020, Caceres’ case was transferred to the Southern District of Ohio, where he was sentenced on February 2 to nine years in federal prison.

On March 30, in federal court in Little Rock, Gonzalez pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, for which statutory punishments ranged from 10 years to life in prison and life upon supervised release. for five years. .

Speaking through an interpreter, Gonzalez told Wilson that he was satisfied with his attorney, Tamera Lee Dever, from the federal public defender’s office in Little Rock, and that he did not want to withdraw his guilty plea.

Referring to Gonzalez’s overall crime level of 27, criminal history score zero and criminal history category 1, Wilson said the range of punishment under US guidelines for the crime is 70 to 87 months in prison and two to five years of supervised release. is.

Deaver, arguing on behalf of his client, told Wilson that the factors surrounding Gonzalez’s guilt justified a sentence at the low end of the guideline limit.

“He has no criminal history and was a minor participant so we think a low-end guideline sentence is appropriate in this case,” she said. “We have an additional request that the court not impose a period of supervised release.”

“You think I should give him 70 months?” Wilson asked.

“We think it would be fair, your honor,” replied Deaver.

“You object to what the prosecution says?” Wilson asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron McCree.

“No, your honor,” said Macri.

“Well,” said Wilson, “that’s what I’ll give him.”

In addition to a 70-month sentence, Wilson recommended that Gonzalez attend substance abuse treatment while in prison, and he also served five years of supervised release after his prison term.

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