Courier Staff Writer
A California man who previously distributed large quantities of narcotics in southeast Iowa was found guilty in federal court last week on drug distribution charges that included a 4-pound shipment of methamphetamine to Ottumwa two years ago.
Late last week, a federal jury found Mark “Little Mexico” Razo, 23, of Los Angeles, guilty of conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines between April and August 2011. He was also found guilty on three counts of using a telephone to commit a federal drug crime.
While incarcerated on other drug charges at Jamestown prison in Jamestown, Calif., Razo used contraband cell phones to direct another man, Barry “Lucky” Diaz, 30, of Stamford, Conn., to distribute drugs in Iowa, Arizona, California, Connecticut and Maine.
In April, Razo was indicted by a federal grand jury along with Diaz. The pair were supposed to be tried together but their trials were split so Diaz could be treated for “undisclosed mental health issues,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
In June 2011, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Maine began a wiretap investigation focused solely on Diaz. During the investigation, though, they learned that Diaz had been communicating with Razo in prison in California to coordinate a 4-pound shipment of meth with its final destination to Ottumwa.
“As a result of that wiretap investigation, they were able to identify a courier of the drugs ... Blanca Ortiz-Rodriguez,” said Sgt. Jason Bell of the Southeast Iowa Inter-Agency Drug Task Force. “She was identified by surveillance traveling south toward Ottumwa and was subsequently stopped by a Wapello County Sheriff’s deputy headed in our direction in Eddyville.”
As a result of that traffic stop on June 20, 2011, law enforcement discovered the 4 pounds of ice meth in the vehicle of Ortiz-Rodriguez, 28, of Lakewood, Calif. She was arrested and charged federally with possession with the intent to deliver more than five grams of methamphetamine, a Class B felony. She pleaded guilty to the charge.
Razo facilitated this transaction from his prison cell in California, and Diaz had been waiting in Ottumwa that day to complete the transaction, though Ortiz-Rodriguez obviously never arrived with the shipment.
“From Maine to California to Iowa. This gives everybody the scale of what’s really taking place out there,” Bell said.
And 4 pounds of meth is significant, he said. That’s a total of 1,814 grams, and since the street value of a gram of meth is around $100, Ortiz-Rodriguez had been transporting more than $181,000 in her car.
“We know that Diaz and Razo had been responsible for additional shipments of controlled substances to our area [prior to the June 2011 seizure],” Bell said.
Razo will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years, though he could spend up to life in federal prison with a fine of up to $10 million on the drug conspiracy charge. For using the contraband cell phones to conduct the drug ring, he will face up to eight years in prison with a fine of up to $250,000.
Razo’s sentencing date has not been set, and a date for Diaz’s trial has also not been set.