CHEYENNE — Investigators seized 16 pounds of methamphetamine and arrested five people in one of the state's largest undercover meth busts, federal officials announced Monday.
Eight pounds of the drug was seized Friday after undercover officers met two of the alleged drug dealers in Riverton. The other 8 pounds turned up in a related traffic stop near Wheatland several hours later, according to the U.S. Attorney's office for Wyoming.
Initial appearances for the five suspects were planned Monday afternoon in Casper before U.S. Magistrate Scott Skavdahl.
Police in Wyoming seize large amounts of meth fairly often during highway stops, but rarely do they make such large undercover busts, according to Tony Young, the U.S. Attorney's law enforcement coordinator for Wyoming.
"This certainly has to be the biggest — if not the biggest, close to the biggest — negotiated purchase," he said.
Young said all five faced charges of possession of meth with intent to distribute, distribution of meth and conspiracy to distribute meth. If convicted, each faces 10 years to life in prison.
The undercover local, state and federal agents in Riverton had originally expected to receive 16 pounds of meth.
Instead, Claudia Hermosillo, 25, and Santiago Gonzalez-Cisneros, 26, both of Riverton, allegedly showed up with 8 pounds of meth in a secret compartment of a 2000 Chevrolet Tahoe. Both were arrested. Police then searched their home and arrested Gonzalez-Cisneros's brother, Cayetano Gonzalez-Cisneros, 35, and Marcos Diaz-Ramirez, 26, both of Denver.
After finding out that the rest of the drugs were headed south with a fifth suspect, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration put out an alert.
Wheatland police pulled over a Dodge Stratus with Colorado license plates on Interstate 25 and allegedly found the other 8 pounds of meth in the trunk. Rafeal Mayorquin-Espinoza, 34, of Denver, was arrested.
Young said authorities were looking into the possibility that the drugs originated with gangs in Mexico. He said the drugs were intended for distribution throughout central Wyoming, including the Wind River Indian Reservation.