United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Jose Mena-Valdez, 36, of Mexico, was convicted on September 30, 2020, following a jury trial before Senior United States District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon of possession with intent to distribute fifty grams or more of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Sentencing for Mena-Valdez is scheduled for January 4, 2021. Mena-Valdez is facing a term of imprisonment of at least five years to life on the drug charge and a mandatory consecutive term of imprisonment of at least five years for the firearm charge. There is no parole in the federal system.
At trial, Omaha Police officers testified that on October 30, 2018, they stopped Mena-Valdez after observing several traffic violations. Mena-Valdez was alone in the vehicle. When making contact with Mena-Valdez, the officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol and observed an open container containing alcohol. During a search of the vehicle, half a pound of methamphetamine was located on the passenger side floorboard and a stolen firearm was located between the passenger seat and the center console. The jury watched video and audio recordings of the encounter that were taken from body and cruiser cameras.
In addition to the testimony of the officers, a Nebraska Public Service Laboratory technologist, based out of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, testified to the identification, purity, and weight of the methamphetamine.
This case was investigated by the Omaha Police Department as part of Project Safe Neighborhood. Project Safe Neighborhood is a national initiative of the Department of Justice that was announced in 2001 to reduce and prevent violent crime and make the nation’s neighborhoods safer.