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Driver in Ashland drug bust gets time served, probation

Juan Enrique Lemus Del Cid, the driver of a vehicle transporting 50 pounds of methamphetamine and nearly five pounds of heroin hidden beneath the front seats, was sentenced to time served and three years supervised probation this week in U.S. District Court.

The defendant, 31, was born in Mexico and his family is in Guatemala. He has had a good employment history and no prior convictions. His post-arrest GPS monitoring was stopped because he was said to be behaving well.

He communicated in court through an interpreter to ensure that he understood what was going to happen — even though he has lived in the United States for several years and was described as having some English fluency.

He served 16 days in jail after his arrest and indictment. The incident occurred in June 2019 near Ashland when he and a co-defendant were traveling north on Interstate 5. They were stopped by Oregon State Police allegedly for speeding.

A drug-sniffing K-9 was brought in and the dog turned up the methamphetamine and heroin hidden underneath the floor, according to previous news reports.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane asked him “how could you make such a bad decision?”

Lemus Del Cid said his co-defendant, Reynalda Larios-Cortes, is the mother of someone he had once been involved with and had “asked me for help.”

The vehicle was registered to Larios-Cortes.

“I really didn’t know what I was doing,” he said.

While the defendant was hard-working and had not exhibited unlawful behavior, “you’re going to pay a very bad criminal price,” McShane told Lemus Del Cid, saying he would likely be deported.

Lemus Del Cid told the judge he was prepared for it and noted if it were to happen, that he had no intention of coming back to the country illegally.

“All I can do is apologize and say I am sorry,” Lemus Del Cid added.