A federal jury in Boise convicted three men Tuesday of conspiring to help distribute about 11 pounds of methamphetamine in southwestern Idaho.
Michael Dennis Morris, 42, of Ontario, Ore.; Jim Allen Loveland, 56, of Boise; Jesus Guadalupe Sanchez, alias Jose Salazar, 31, a Mexican national, face 10 years to life in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine when they are sentenced April 8 by U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill.
The jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours after a six-day trial before Winmill at the federal courthouse in Downtown Boise.
Morris, Salazar and Loveland helped distribute the meth in Canyon, Payette and Washington counties between November 2011 and last May. Salazar and Morris were charged in U.S. District Court in June; Loveland was charged in August.
The investigation began after Benjamine L. Vertner, 34, was arrested for a DUI and chose "to cooperate with authorities regarding his involvement with the distribution of methamphetamine in the Treasure Valley area," according to court documents.
Vertner, of Ontario, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and is awaiting sentencing with 11 co-defendants: Patrick Campbell, 36, of Boise; Rachel Coblentz, 25, of Wrangell, Alaska, formerly of Weiser; Mario Martinez, Jr., 55, of Greenleaf, Idaho; Fabian Jordano Beltran, 23, and Jacob James Clevenger, 31; Kristopher Hensley, 26; Johnny A. Tambunga, 40, and Dawson Lee Moore, 60, all of Weiser; Amber Hites, 26, all of Weiser; Johnathan E. Chapman, 27, of New Plymouth. Amy Maria Cavazos, 38, of Weiser, is to be sentenced Feb. 1 after pleading guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, which carries at least five years in prison.
Many of the defendants testified during the trial.
In 2012, 73 people in Idaho were sent to federal prison for about 557 years total in relation to methamphetamine crimes, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boise.