L.A. man found with meth in trunk on I-15 near Hurricane gets 10 years in prison

Composite image | Background photo by Peter Csaza/iStock/Getty Images Plus, booking photo of Ricardo Cordero courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Los Angeles man found with more than $200,000 worth of methamphetamine in his trunk during a traffic stop on Interstate 15 in December was sentenced to a decade in federal prison, while the passenger will spend a year in county jail.

Ricardo Cordero, 30, of Las Angeles, Calif., booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Dec. 11, 2019 | File photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Ricardo Cordero, 30, of Los Angeles, appeared before U.S. District Judge David Nuffer during a sentencing hearing Thursday after pleading guilty to one count of possession of a methamphetamine with intent to distribute, according to documents filed in federal court.

The passenger, 21-year-old Violet Armenta, also from Los Angeles, appeared before District Judge G. Michael Westfall in 5th District Court for sentencing in February.

Cordero was sentenced to serve 10 years in federal prison and will be placed on 60 months of post-prison supervision upon his release. The court recommended that the defendant be housed at a federal prison facility located in Lompoc, California, to be closer to his family, or to a facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

Following the hearing, the defendant was turned over to the U.S. Marshals Office for transport.

Both defendants were originally charged in 5th District Court Dec. 12, where each faced one second-degree felony count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, as well as misdemeanor possession of marijuana and paraphernalia charge, according to charging documents filed in 5th District Court.

On Jan. 16, all of the state charges against Cordero were dismissed when he was indicted in federal court on one count of possession to distribute methamphetamine, a charge that court records reveal he pleaded guilty to in May.

The case stems from an incident Dec. 11, when a Washington County Drug Task Force detective stopped a silver passenger car heading north on Interstate 15 near mile marker 18 just past the Hurricane Exit, where a Washington City K-9 unit was deployed. During a search of the trunk, police found 32 individually rolled oblong packages containing a white crystalline substance which later tested positive for methamphetamine.

Police K-9 “Atticus” assists in locating more than 36 pounds of methamphetamine found in the trunk of a car, Washington County, Utah, Dec. 11, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Washington City Police Chief, Jason Williams, St. George News

In all, 36 pounds of the substance was recovered by police.

Armenta, the passenger, appeared before District Judge G. Michael Westfall for sentencing in 5th District Court Feb. 24. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the second-degree felony charge of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance was reduced to a third-degree felony, and all other charges were dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea.

The defendant was sentenced to serve one year in county jail, with credit for time served, and placed on 12-months bench probation.

Additionally, Westfall ordered that if Armenta successfully completes the jail’s residential substance abuse treatment program within 180 days, then she can request an early termination of her probation and a suspension of the balance of her jail time.

On July 9, a hearing was held after the defendant, who has remained in jail since her arrest Dec. 12, requested an early release from jail, as she was unable to complete the residential treatment program due to COVID-19 restrictions. That request was granted under the conditions that she be placed on 24-months probation and remain in contact with court support services.


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