Two Young California Men Sentenced to 80 Months for Drug Crimes
Two California men were recently sentenced to nearly seven years imprisonment for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl, according to federal and state court records and the Wyoming U.S. Attorney's Office.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl sentenced Eric Roberto Nechochea and Steve Heriberto Ordonez each to 80 months imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised probation during hearings in federal court in Casper in March and February respectively.
Neither Nechochea, 24, nor Ordonez, 21, had previous criminal histories.
The case started on July 16, 2022, when a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper pulled over a pickup for speeding on Wyoming Highway 220 west of Casper.
The trooper asked for their identification and Nechochea, the driver said he didn't have one. Ordonez had identifications and said the pickup belonged to his aunt, and said they were traveling to St. Paul, Minnesota, to visit their uncle who was dying of cancer.
Both were from San Bernardino, California.
The trooper began filling out a citation, another trooper arrived, and both had suspicions about the stories.
The first trooper asked to search their vehicle, they agreed, and they became suspicious that the vehicle may have a compartment.
They requested a K-9 from he Casper Police Department, and the dog alerted to the odor of narcotics.
The vehicle was towed to the Wyoming Department of Transportation's shop, where investigators found the hidden compartment containing six vacuum-sealed bags with nearly 5 kilograms -- approximately 11 pounds of methamphetamine, three bags with 1.5 kilograms of more than 10,000 fentanyl pills, and one bag containing approximately 1 kilogram of fentanyl.
Nechochea and Ordonez were taken into custody and initially charged in Natrona County District Court.
The federal government took over the case in September.
Besides the Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Casper Police Department, other investigating agencies included the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christyne M. Martens prosecuted the case.