2 sentenced on drug charges stemming from June heroin bust on I-15 near Cedar City

Fifth District Courthouse, Cedar City, Utah, April 15, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Two people arrested after a traffic stop that yielded 8 pounds of heroin in June, were recently sentenced separately after pleading guilty to reduced charges.

Iron County Jail booking photo of Daniel Mendiola, Cedar City, Utah, June 9, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

Daniel Mendiola, 32, was sentenced on Oct. 18 by 5th District Judge Matthew L. Bell, who ordered Mendiola to serve 300 days in jail, with credit given to time already served since his arrest. Then, on Monday, Bell sentenced Hickman on one count of attempted possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a third-degree felony.

As previously reported in Cedar City News, Mendiola and America Hickman, 41, were arrested following a traffic stop on June 9 on Interstate 15 north of Cedar City, when a K-9 officer detected the heroin during a search of their vehicle. The drugs had an estimated street value of approximately $100,000, authorities said.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Mendiola pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony. Two misdemeanor charges against Mendiola were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

The court also waived all but $53 of the $19,053 in fines against Mendiola and ordered him to complete 36 months of supervised probation following the completion of his jail sentence.

America Hickman addresses 5th District Judge Matthew L. Bell in Cedar City, Utah during her sentencing hearing via videoconference, Nov. 29, 2021 | Screenshot image courtesy of 5th District Court, St. George News / Cedar City News

In the Hickman case, prosecutors noted that she had also signed a plea agreement in October and said her cooperation had helped obtain the conviction against Mendiola.

The court suspended jail time for Hickman other than the 15 days she’d already served in June before being released on bail.

Bell also waived a total of $8,550 in fines for Hickman, leaving her responsible for $1,003, payable in monthly installments of $75.

Hickman also was placed on probation for 36 months. If she fails to abide by the terms of her probation, she could be subject to another 350 days in jail, the court noted. 

“Thank you, your honor. I really am grateful,” a tearful Hickman told the judge as the sentencing concluded. She was assisted by a Spanish interpreter throughout the hearing.

Bell then scheduled a probationary review hearing for Hickman six months from now and said, “I want to see you comply with all of the terms of your probation and we’ll make sure that you are doing just that when you come back on May 9.”

Afterward, Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson thanked Utah Highway Patrol troopers and Iron County Drug Task Force officers for their efforts to “slow the tide of harmful drugs from flowing into Utah and Iron County.”

“Getting these deadly drugs off our streets and the profits from sales out of the hands of dealers is a big win,” Dotson added.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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