CAPE GIRARDEAU -- A Pemiscot County man has pled guilty to federal felony drug charges.
Jorge Lopez-Vargas, 40, also known as Cesar Sifuentes-Prado and Javier Balderas, entered a plea of guilty to one felony count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and one count of possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime during an appearance Thursday before U.S. District Judge Charles A. Shaw, according to U.S. Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway.
Sentencing has been set for 11 a.m. Nov. 30 in St. Louis. Lopez-Vargas faces a maximum of life imprisonment and a $4 million fine or both with the court imposing a period of supervised release of at least five years.
With his plea, Lopez-Vargas admitted that on Oct. 17, 2005, he was stopped by officers from the Bootheel Drug Task Force after he had completed a drug transaction.
Lopez-Vargas consented to a search of the vehicle after which officers located a secret compartment containing 276.9 grams of methamphetamine, $5,990 in U.S. currency, and a loaded 9 mm pistol. A set of drug scales was also located in the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
During a search by jail staff at the county jail prior to Lopez-Vargas being incarcerated, officers located three bags of suspected controlled substances in Lopez-Vargas' underwear.
Lopez-Vargas reportedly admitted to agents from the Bootheel Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration that he had been trafficking in methamphetamine for several months in southeast Missouri.
Hanaway commended the Bootheel Drug Task Force and DEA for their combined efforts in this case.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim J. Willis handled the prosecution for the government.