Drug Dealer Sentenced to 27 Years for Meth Trafficking
PEORIA, Ill. – Todd Smith, Assistant Special Agent in Charge at Drug Enforcement Administration-Chicago Field Division, and U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris for the Central District of Illinois announced that Gabriel Antonio Montano-Rodriguez, 41, was sentenced last month to 324 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of ice methamphetamine.
At the Jan. 13, 2023, sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid, the government presented evidence that Montano-Rodriguez, who was living in the United States illegally and operated mainly out of Arizona, obtained methamphetamine from Mexico and trafficked both methamphetamine and heroin from the southwest border to the Central District of Illinois. Montano-Rodriguez personally transported ice methamphetamine from Arizona to the Peoria area, where he then used a network of local drug dealers to sell the meth and heroin. On one trip alone, Montano-Rodriguez brought 15 pounds of ice methamphetamine to sell.
Using the most conservative estimates, Judge Shadid found that Montano-Rodriguez was accountable for trafficking over 23 pounds of ice methamphetamine and approximately 6 pounds of heroin to the Central District of Illinois during the course of his 10-month long conspiracy.
Also at the hearing, Judge Shadid found that Montano-Rodriguez led a “life of crime” prior to this offense, including convictions for a federal marijuana conspiracy, illegal reentry, and transportation of undocumented immigrants. Judge Shadid also noted that Montano-Rodriguez had been living in the United States illegally and had been deported at least four prior occasions and voluntarily removed on other occasions, each time unlawfully returning to the United States and continuing to commit crimes. Shadid noted that a significant sentence was necessary since all prior deportation efforts had not effectively removed Montano-Rodriguez “from the streets of the United States” or otherwise deterred his criminal conduct.
Three of the Peoria-area drug dealers that distributed for Montano-Rodriguez have been prosecuted federally and are currently in the Bureau of Prisons. One additional local drug dealer faced state prosecution and was sentenced to Illinois Department of Corrections.
“The DEA, alongside our state and local partners, have an unwavering commitment to protect Americans by tenaciously pursuing those who are responsible for the trafficking and distribution of methamphetamine in our community,” said DEA ASAC Smith.
“The Pekin Police Department’s partnership with the DEA unleashes a host of resources that allows our team of experienced, dedicated, sharp-shooting detectives to work on cases like these,” said Pekin Police Department Chief John Dossey. “Montano-Rodriguez could have landed anywhere in the United States to deal drugs—and to the immense credit of the case agent who tirelessly pursued him—this sentence makes clear that Montano-Rodriguez should have chosen elsewhere. Our Department’s focus and decades-long legacy to keep communities safe by disrupting drug dealers at the top of the food chain will continue.”
Montano-Rodriguez was indicted in September 2021 and arrested in November 2021 in Texas, where he was serving a federal prison sentence for marijuana conspiracy. He was removed to the Central District of Illinois in December 2021 and pleaded guilty in June 2022. Montano-Rodriguez has been in the custody of the United States Marshals Service since his arrest.
The statutory penalties for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute are a minimum of 10 years to life imprisonment, followed by up to five years of supervised release, and up to a $10 million fine. One prior conviction increases the sentence from 15 years to life, and two prior convictions increase the sentence from 25 years to life.
The DEA and Pekin Police Department investigated this case, with valuable assistance provided by the Department of Homeland Security and Canton Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine G. Legge represented the government in the prosecution.