California Man Caught At Tampa International Airport Pleads Guilty To Transporting 60 Kilograms Of Methamphetamine

Tampa, FL – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Hernan Cruz-Moreno (24, Earlimart, California) has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. Cruz-Moreno faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, on May 2, 2023, Cruz-Moreno and Agustin Ortiz-Sanchez (22, Thermal, CA) flew from Los Angeles, California to Tampa International Airport with four suitcases containing a total of 60 kilograms of methamphetamine. Special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and officers from the Tampa International Airport Police Department examined the luggage in a secure area of the airport, and a narcotics detection dog indicated there were drugs in the bags. Cruz-Moreno and Sanchez-Ortiz later retrieved the bags and were arrested by officers conducting surveillance. Cruz-Moreno admitted that he had been paid $2,000 by another individual to transport the luggage and stated at the time that he didn’t know what was in the bags, but he knew it was something illegal. 

In November 2023, Ortiz-Sanchez pleaded guilty to same offense. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 27, 2024.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Tampa International Airport Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney E. Jackson Boggs Jr.

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