Drug suspects plead guilty Wednesday

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Three offenders captured in a multi-agency drug raid in April were sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to felony drug charges.

Benito Gomez-Medrano, who is alleged to have been one of the leaders of the area drug "organization," was sentenced to eight years in prison for possession and distribution of methamphetamine.

Gomez-Medrano's attorney, Erick Nordstrom, argued that the 8-year sentence recommended by the probation department was too harsh for a first-time felon, who has a wife and two children who live in Craig.

Nordstrom said Gomez-Medrano was a "mule," a go-between, and a man who was not getting wealthy off of the drug trade.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Waite disagreed, saying, "Mr. Medrano is a drug dealer, pure and simple." Waite noted that the 8-year cap on Gomez-Medrano's prison term, as mandated by the plea agreement he secured, was nowhere near the amount of time he could have received.

Furthermore, Waite said, "There is nothing to indicate he is a good candidate for probation."

Chief Judge Michael O'Hara addressed Gomez-Medrano, saying, "I disagree with (Nordstrom) when he says you lost your family today because you lost your family when you began to use drugs."

O'Hara said he hoped his sentence would be a deterrent to others who would consider dealing drugs.

Gomez-Medrano will be deported to Mexico upon release from the Colorado Department of Corrections at the end of his prison term.

Roberto Loya, 26, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

His lawyer argued that Loya should simply be deported, saving taxpayers the cost of housing him, especially in times of financial hardship for the state. Also, his lawyer said many times Mexican immigrants do not realize how serious the offense of drug dealing really is in the U.S.

O'Hara disagreed.

"I was an attorney in San Diego," O'Hara said. "I represented many people incarcerated in Mexico. If you do these things in Mexico, you could be killed. I disagree that people in Mexico think that way."

O'Hara handed down a sentence in state prison, saying it was the most appropriate action based on Loya's involvement.

A lesser player, Luis Alcantar-Burciaga, received a 90-day sentence in the Moffat County jail. He previously pleaded guilty to attempted possession of cocaine.

O'Hara actually sentenced Alcantar-Burciaga to eight months but the convict received credit for the 152 days he has already served in Moffat County.

Upon his release from the county jail, Alcantar-Burciaga will be deported to Mexico.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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