Two men were sentenced late this week for possessing with intent to distribute multiple kilos of methamphetamine in the Tulsa-Metro area, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
“In these two cases, large quantities of methamphetamine were confiscated and removed from the illegal drug market,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “Federal prosecutors and our law enforcement partners are intent on holding traffickers accountable for distributing deadly methamphetamine and other narcotics in Oklahoma’s communities.”
U.S. District Judge John F. Heil III sentenced Marco Antonio Zavala- Cervantes, 27, of Tulsa, to 210 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. Zavala-Cervantes pleaded guilty for possessing with intent to distribute 6 kilograms of pure methamphetamine and to unlawfully reentering the United States. Zavala-Cervantes was previously removed from the country on April 21, 2018.
After coordination between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, a trooper stopped Zavala-Cervantes for a traffic violation on June 2, 2020. The defendant claimed he was returning from a construction job in Muskogee. During the stop, a K-9 was deployed and positively alerted to the presence of narcotics inside the vehicle. Officers then conducted a probable cause search of the vehicle and discovered six gallon sized bags filled with pure methamphetamine that had an estimated street value of $78,000. Pure methamphetamine can be diluted into even larger quantities for resale. In a subsequent search of his phone, investigators discovered that in one day, the defendant had engaged in multiple drug sales worth in excess of $10,000.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and Oklahoma Highway Patrol conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Nassar prosecuted the case.
In a separate case, U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced drug distributor Richard Howard Barnett III, 25, of Tulsa, to 240 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release.
Barnett III, pleaded guilty in January 2021 to two counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; possession of heroin with intent to distribute; and two counts of possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.
On Feb. 5, 2019, the Tulsa Police Department Special Investigations Division’s Narcotics Unit executed a probable cause warrant on Barnett’s residence in Tulsa. After announcing their presence, a male identified as Richard Barnett attempted to flee from a door along the side of the garage. Officers subdued Barnett, and as he was being taken into custody, a Taurus semi-auto pistol fell from his waistband. During a search of the home, officers found Barnett’s photo identification and tribal citizenship paperwork. They also discovered 1,837 grams of methamphetamine, 13 grams of heroin, multiple firearms and ammunition, and items used in the distribution of narcotics such as digital scales and baggies. Three others were also taken into custody.
Just weeks after his arrest, Barnett bonded out of custody and immediately resumed his drug operation by obtaining another stash of methamphetamine and another firearm. On March 15, 2019, officers executed a search warrant at the same residence, where they found methamphetamine, numerous pills in baggies, and a loaded .25 caliber pistol. Four others were also taken into custody.
The Tulsa Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn A. McCormick is prosecuting the case. AUSA McCormick is the Lead Attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force in the Northern District of Oklahoma.