A man who conspired to distribute methamphetamine while possessing guns was sentenced on January 19, 2021, to more than 10 years in federal prison.
Jacob Hernandez, 27, from Storm Lake, Iowa, received the prison term after a September 16, 2020, guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
In a plea agreement, Hernandez admitted that from January 2020 through March 2020, he was involved in a conspiracy that distributed more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine in the Storm Lake and Fonda areas. In February and March 2020, law enforcement conducted three controlled drug purchases of methamphetamine from Hernandez. In March 2020, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hernandez’s residence. Ultimately, officers seized two guns, approximately 2 ounces of methamphetamine, over $5,000 in cash, drug trafficking materials, 2 bullet proof vests, marijuana, drug ledgers, and various ammunition.
Hernandez was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. Hernandez was sentenced to 125 months’ and 29 days’ imprisonment. He must also serve a 4-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
Hernandez is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This case was also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/ag/page/file/1217186/download.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mikala Steenholdt and was investigated by the Iowa Department of Narcotics Enforcement, Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Office, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Sac County Sheriff’s Office, and the Iowa Division of Criminalistics Laboratory.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 20-3029. Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.