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Elderly Ontario Couple Sentenced to Federal Prison for Trafficking Methamphetamine in Idaho

*** PRESS RELEASE ***

Shared from the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Idaho

Elderly Ontario Couple Sentenced to Federal Prison for

Trafficking Methamphetamine in Idaho

Efren Avilez-Lopez, 81, and Maria Medina-Zeveda, 70, husband and wife, and both Mexican nationals illegally living in Ontario, Oregon, were sentenced for trafficking large amounts of methamphetamine in Idaho, U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit announced today.

On February 12, 2024, Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye sentenced Avilez-Lopez to nine years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. On February 13, 2024, Chief Judge Nye sentenced Medina-Zeveda to 37 months in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Both Avilez-Lopez and Medina-Zeveda were ordered to serve three years of supervised release. Both will be deported after completing their sentences.

According to court records, on April 15, 2023, Avilez-Lopez and Medina-Zeveda sold an undercover officer five pounds of methamphetamine in a Nampa store parking lot. On April 25, 2023, they both sold an undercover officer 20 pounds of methamphetamine in a Nampa store parking lot.

Then on May 12, 2023, Avilez-Lopez and Medina-Zeveda drove from Ontario to Los Angeles, to pick up a large load of methamphetamine. On their way home, they were stopped by law enforcement in Owyhee County, where it was discovered they were transporting four family members, including a minor child. A dog, which was trained and certified to detect the odor of illegal drugs, alerted on the vehicle and when officers searched the vehicle, they located twenty-one pounds of methamphetamine in the floorboards.

“These defendants were a driving force behind a significant drug trafficking organization that, thanks to law enforcement, has been dismantled,” said U.S. Attorney Hurwit. “While it is not common for us to find drug traffickers at this stage of life, make no mistake: these defendants earned their sentences. We will continue to do our part to ensure that justice is applied fairly and equitably to all, regardless of age or background.”

“The drug threat can come from anywhere and is not restricted to any age or demographic, as this case dramatically illustrates,” said David F. Reames, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division. “Whether these criminals are old or young, the Drug Enforcement Administration and our partners will relentlessly pursue those who poison our communities with methamphetamine or other dangerous drugs.”

“Strong partnerships between local, state, and federal law enforcement is key to bringing successful conclusions to cases like this,” said Nampa Police Chief Joe Huff. “We are proud of the teamwork being done across jurisdictions to combat drug crime.”

“I am proud of our continued partnership and collaboration with our law enforcement partners, which ultimately led to this successful operation,” said Caldwell Police Chief Rex Ingram.

“This case highlights the incredible working relationships among our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners in and around the Treasure Valley,” said Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue. “It also shows that the illicit drug trade — inherently operated by Transcontinental Criminal Organizations like the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation Cartels — knows no bounds. These individuals are not what the average person would think of when they hear the term drug dealer. This was a couple in their 70s and 80s who bought and sold extremely high quantities of methamphetamine, endangering countless lives, including those of their own family.”

“By working together, law enforcement agencies across jurisdictions continue joining forces to combat illicit drugs in our communities. Embodying the principles of “Esto Perpetua,” our collaborative efforts relentlessly strive to dismantle the networks responsible for distributing drugs throughout Idaho. We are not only upholding the law but safeguarding the well-being of our citizens,” said Idaho State Police Major Russ Wheatley.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Nampa Police Department, the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho State Probation and Parole, the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, the Caldwell Police Department, the City-County Narcotics Unit, the Idaho State Police, the Oregon State Police, the Ontario Police Department, the Owyhee County Prosecutor’s Office, and the High Desert Drug Task Force in Oregon. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Nafzger prosecuted the case. U.S. Attorney Hurwit expressed his gratitude to each of the law enforcement agencies for their efforts on this case who achieved justice through their hard work.

The High Desert Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local, multi-state, and international drug trafficking organizations using an intelligence-driven, multi-agency prosecutor-supported approach. They are supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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