Mexican drug trafficker, illegal alien gets 17 years for dealing meth in Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –  On November 30, 2020, Jairo Cruz-Rico, 37, a Citizen of Mexico, was sentenced to 210 months (17.5 years) in a federal prison by Senior United States District Court Judge Thomas W. Phillips. Cruz-Rico was a supplier of methamphetamine for a drug conspiracy that distributed hundreds of kilograms of methamphetamine in Georgia and Tennessee. Cruz-Rico had earlier pled guilty to a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

On April 30, 2019, Cruz-Rico was apprehended in Georgia by Homeland Security Investigations federal agents while he was on his way to deliver approximately 2 kilograms of methamphetamine. He had a gun with him in his vehicle. Cruz-Rico was a member of a far-reaching drug distribution conspiracy, which was uncovered and dismantled through an investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

“This case and, more importantly, this conviction send a strong message to anyone who attempts traffic or is thinking about trafficking drugs through our highways and into our communities that you will be apprehended and prosecuted. This conviction and sentence are the result of a sweeping law enforcement effort to stem the flow of drugs from around the world that eventually end up in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey.

“Working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, HSI continues to assist in the identification and prosecution of those who participate in drug trafficking conspiracies,” said HSI Nashville Special Agent in Charge Jerry C. Templet, Jr. “Methamphetamine is a dangerous substance that destroys lives and endangers the communities that we are sworn to protect.”

This prosecution was the result of a joint investigation by the HSI Knoxville, HSI Atlanta, TBI, 9th Judicial Drug Task Force, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Middle Tennessee HIDTA Task Force, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The investigation is a result of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.