Unlawful drug user caught with several pounds of meth and two firearms
A man that conspired to distribute methamphetamine and illegally possessed firearms pled guilty July 15, 2021, in federal court in Sioux City.
Diego Ayala, 31, from Sioux City, Iowa, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of distribution of methamphetamine, and one count of prohibited person in possession of firearms.
At the plea hearing, Ayala admitted that between September 2020 and continuing to on or about January 7, 2021, he and others conspired to distribute at least 1500 grams of methamphetamine. Over the course of several weeks, in four separate transactions, Ayala received 10-12 pounds of meth for further distribution in the Sioux City area. On January 7, 2021, law enforcement conducted a controlled purchase of one pound of methamphetamine from Ayala. Subsequently, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Ayala’s residence and seized about four more pounds of methamphetamine, an unloaded 9mm handgun and a loaded AR-15 rifle. Law enforcement also seized 68 rounds of .380 caliber ammunition, 84 rounds of 9mm caliber ammunition, and 120 rounds of 5.56 ammunition from several different locations in Ayala’s residence. Ayala admitted he planned on distributing the methamphetamine to other persons. Ayala also admitted to being an unlawful user of methamphetamine while in possession of firearms.
Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Ayala remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing. On the conspiracy conviction, Ayala 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 distribution conviction, Ayala faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, a $5,000,000 fine, and a term of supervised release of at least four years. On the firearm conviction, Ayala faces maximum penalties of not more than 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a term of supervised release of not more than three years.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn S. Wehde and was investigated by Tri-State Drug Task Force based in Sioux City, Iowa, that consists of law enforcement personnel from the Drug Enforcement Administration; Sioux City, Iowa, Police Department; Homeland Security Investigations; Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office; South Sioux City, Nebraska, Police Department; Nebraska State Patrol; Iowa National Guard; Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement; United States Marshals Service; South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation; and Woodbury County Attorney’s Office.
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