Springfield, Mo. – (12/6/2017) Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Mexican national, stopped en route from Arizona to Ohio, has been convicted at trial of possessing at least five kilograms of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

Adriana Gutierrez-Ramirez, also known as Adriana Peralta, 43, a citizen of Mexico residing in Phoenix, Arizona, was found guilty on Tuesday of the charge contained in an October superseding indictment.

Co-defendant Luis J. Duarte, 59, a citizen of Mexico also residing in Phoenix, pleaded guilty in August to possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute. Duarte was driving a cargo utility truck, with Gutierrez-Ramirez in the passenger seat, when they were stopped by a state trooper on I-44 in Strafford in February. Duarte had rented the truck in Phoenix two days earlier for a one-way trip.

When the trooper searched the vehicle, he found a kilogram-sized package of cocaine inside a cardboard box containing clothing in the cargo area of the truck and placed Duarte and Gutierrez-Ramirez under arrest. Four more kilogram-sized packages of cocaine were found during a search of the vehicle after it was transported to headquarters.

Duarte admitted that he was solicited by an unidentified person to drive the truck to Ohio. That person gave Duarte $1,500 to rent the truck and for expenses during the trip. Duarte told investigators he was unsure how much he was being paid for the trip but expected to receive payment when he reached the destination. When Duarte picked up the truck, Gutierrez-Ramirez, whom he had never met, was already sitting inside.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield deliberated for about 20 minutes before returning a guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool, ending a trial that began in December.

Under federal statutes, Gutierrez-Ramirez is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

(Edited Media Release)