LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A federal jury found a California truck driver guilty Thursday after he was found with millions of dollars worth of meth during a traffic stop in Arkansas in 2015.
A federal jury found Javier Leon, 56, of Moreno Valley, Calif., guilty of Possessing With the Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in a case that involved the largest amount of methamphetamine ever seized in Arkansas. Law enforcement found more than 260 pounds of meth — worth millions of dollars — in the back of Leon’s tractor-trailer while he was traveling through Lonoke in 2015.
Leon will be sentenced at a later date.
“This seizure had enough methamphetamine to supply every man, woman, and child in Little Rock,” Patrick C. Harris, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said. “Thanks to the efforts of several law enforcement agencies and agents, this significant amount of methamphetamine will never hit the streets, and never poison our communities. This jury verdict makes clear that whatever level of involvement you have with this drug—as a seller, user, or courier—there will be justice served and punishment delivered.”
Testimony during the trial established that the 260 pounds of methamphetamine — which was broken into smaller, individual-size portions — could have been enough to serve more than 300,000 people, with a potential street value of $7 to $8 million.
Leon owned his own 18-wheel tractor-trailer and drove for California furniture shipping company American West. On March 30, 2015, while heading east on Interstate 40, Leon pulled over and parked illegally on an exit ramp in Lonoke. Now-retired Arkansas State Police Corporal Olen Craig made contact with Leon, and the state police then searched the trailer after a drug-detection dog signaled drugs were present.
Arkansas State Police Corporal Chase Melder located the meth, which included more than 22 pounds of powder meth and more than 240 pounds of liquid meth, amongst a load of furniture destined for Alabama and the Atlanta area. The liquid meth was contained in multiple five-gallon plastic jugs, similar to the type of jugs used with water coolers.
“Stopping drug traffickers traveling across Arkansas highways is a priority for state troopers, particularly the department’s criminal interdiction unit,” Colonel William J. Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, said. “This case represents a major victory in stopping illegal drugs from getting to a destination and our troopers are committed to staying in the fight.”
The DEA became involved in the case following the seizure and continued to investigate Leon. In addition to the guilty verdict, the jury found that the 18-wheel tractor-trailer is to be forfeited.
“The federal conviction of Javier Leon sends a strong message to criminals that we take methamphetamine trafficking very seriously in the Eastern District of Arkansas,” Matthew Barden, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said. “The DEA will continue working with our law enforcement partners and pursue those who threaten our communities with the distribution of methamphetamine and other illegal and dangerous drugs.”
The statutory penalty for possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine is not less than 10 years’ imprisonment, not more than life, a $10,000,000 fine, or both.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA, Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police Department, and Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.