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Involved in the distribution of over 4 pounds of meth while possessing guns and body armor.

A man who conspired to distribute methamphetamine while possessing firearms pled guilty September 16, 2020, in federal court in Sioux City.

Jacob Hernandez, 26, from Storm Lake, Iowa, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

At the plea hearing, Hernandez admitted that from January 2020 through March 2020, he was involved in a conspiracy that distributed more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine in the Storm Lake and Fonda areas.  In March 2020, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hernandez’s residence. During the search, officers seized $5,010 cash on Hernandez, cell phone, torch lighter, and vape pen. Officers also searched Hernandez’s garage and found: a Kimber .45 caliber pistol and a 20 gauge shotgun; approximately 2 ounces of methamphetamine and 1.4 pounds of marijuana, 3 ounces of marijuana, drug ledgers, drug paraphernalia, various types of ammunition, vacuum seal bags, vacuum sealer, and two ballistic vests. 

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Hernandez will remain in custody pending sentencing.  Hernandez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a $10,000,000 fine, and at least five years of supervised release following any imprisonment on the drug conviction.  On the firearm conviction, Hernandez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, which must be served consecutive to any term of imprisonment imposed on the drug conviction and a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a $250,000 file, and up to five years of supervised release.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/ag/page/file/1217186/download.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mikala Steenholdt and was investigated by the Iowa Department of Narcotics Enforcement, Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Office, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Sac County Sheriff’s Office, and the Iowa Division of Criminalistics Laboratory. 

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

The case file number is 20-3029.  Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

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