Man Gets Five Years in Prison Over Drug Smuggling

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) press release confirms a man from Arizona has been sentenced to 70 months in prison following a drug bust. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Steve Lugo Leon, aged 24, coordinated a transaction to distribute fentanyl pills and methamphetamine at a mall near Interstate 10 and Southern Avenue in Tempe. 

The incident took place on September 15, 2021.

The DEA stated in a press release on June 1 that Leon was attempting to sell the drugs at the mall when officers from the Gila River Police Department tried to initiate a traffic stop. 

According to authorities, Gila River police officers attempted to stop Leon’s truck in the mall parking lot. However, Leon evaded the scene, leading the police officers on a vehicle pursuit.

During the chase with the police, Leon’s truck collided with another vehicle, resulting in that vehicle being overturned onto its side. 

Officials reported that Leon continued trying to evade police until he ultimately crashed his pickup truck into a light pole.

After further investigation, law enforcement discovered the drugs concealed in the truck’s cargo bed. 

According to authorities, a significant number of illicit substances, comprising over 28 pounds of methamphetamine and over 9,000 fentanyl pills, were discovered hidden within a children’s pillow shaped like a shark in his vehicle.

According to the DEA release, Leon’s co-defendant, 20-year-old Rafael Ivan Valenzuela Chairez, fled the scene on foot after exiting the vehicle. However, officers were able to apprehend him.

According to the agency, Leon ultimately pled guilty to possessing 40 grams or more of Fentanyl with intent to sell or distribute.

As for Chairez, he received a prison sentence of 18 months after pleading guilty to possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to sell or distribute. 

United States District Judge G. Murray Snow imposed an additional period of supervised release lasting five years for Leon. 

Chairez was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.