Drug officials laud guilty verdict of Calif. meth dealer

Drug officials laud guilty verdict of California meth dealer

The Associated Press

JACKSON Federal and state officials Thursday lauded the conviction of a California man who was accused of smuggling methamphetamine to Mississippi.

Fidel Orozco Ayala of Long Beach, Calif., was convicted Wednesday in federal court in Jackson of conspiracy to distribute 12 pounds of meth.

Ryan Spradlin, an agent with the U.S. Customs Service in Jackson, said Ayala could get up to life in prison at an upcoming sentencing hearing because of the amount of meth involved.

“It’s a huge amount,” Spradlin said. “You just don’t see that much meth in Mississippi.”

Law enforcement officials accused Ayala of being the leader of a large-scale meth trafficking organization in Mexico and southern California. Ayala had been a “priority target” of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles, Spradlin said.

Authorities in November 2000 discovered a Federal Express package with a small amount of meth in it addressed to Henry York of Forest, Miss. Authorities arrested York, who was eventually sentenced to eight years in prison on drug charges.

York led authorities to Dionicio Lopez of Oxnard, Calif., who sent York the meth. Lopez was later sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Lopez agreed to cooperate in the ensuing investigation and subsequently identified Ayala as his meth source, authorities said.