Things That Matter

A Man Has Been Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison After Being Caught With 14 Meth Burritos

There are days when the thought of stuffing your face with a burrito can bring so much happiness into our lives. However, when authorities found 14 foil-wrapped burrito-shaped packages in Ricardo Renteria’s SUV in 2018, they weren’t so pleased. They weren’t filled with beans or cheese. Instead, Los Angeles police found the “burritos” filled with one key ingredient: about a pound each of methamphetamine. Renteria, 48, of Colton, California was sentenced on Monday to 15 years in federal prison for carrying more than 13 pounds of methamphetamine in his car.

People are stunned how this bait and switch “burritos” was pulled off.

Credit: @latimes / Twitter

Back on Feb. 3, 2018, Renteria was pulled over in the Angelino Heights neighborhood by Los Angeles Police officers after multiple witnesses reported a white Chevrolet Tahoe driving erratically. When police asked for his license, Renteria didn’t have it on him and was then allowed to search for his registration and insurance. While he couldn’t provide the correct paperwork, police determined the vehicle was registered to Renteria legally but found that his license was expired. That’s when Renteria let police search the vehicle. They would soon find a black garbage bag filled with 14 “foil-wrapped, burrito shaped” packages.

Authorities said that Renteria is a member of a neighborhood LA street gang and goes by the nickname “Flaco.” According to the Los Angeles Times, Renteria’s car was subsequently impounded after the arrest. During a later search of the vehicle, a fully loaded handgun was recovered from a secret compartment on the driver’s side door and more than $800 in cash.

“He has a very long criminal history,” Chief U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips said during the trial. “This was a large amount of methamphetamine — and the way it was packaged, it was clearly for sale.”

According to police, the street value of the methamphetamine ranged from $27,000 to $40,000.

Credit: @lapdhq / Twitter

During his one-day trial in March, Renteria was found guilty of possessing meth with intent to distribute, possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and being a felon with a firearm, according to prosecutors.

During his sentencing hearing, Renteria asked Judge Phillips to “take into consideration (that) I have a family waiting for me — and I apologize for the situation I find myself in.”

Judge Phillips rejected the notion and said that a significant prison sentence was needed “to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant.” There was also a recommendation that Renteria undergoes a mental and physical health examination while serving time in prison.

“He wasn’t trying to sell a pound of meth disguised as burritos or trick anyone into thinking they’re real,” Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California, told the News Observer. “But he was probably hoping to avoid detection this way.”

Police are familiar with this tactic and have previously seen creative ways that criminals try to disguise various drugs in the form of food.

“Narcotics dealers go to great lengths to conceal whatever narcotics it is they’re trying to move from one location to another,” Meghan Aguilar, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman told the Washington Post. “Soda cans, books cut out in the middle. Only the imagination limits how far drug dealers will go.”

This isn’t the first time we hear about someone trying to smuggle drugs in the form of a burrito.

Credit: @dailymail / Twitter

Just last week, a Colorado corrections officer tried to smuggle a drug-filled burrito into the Buena Vista Correctional Facility. Trevor Martineau filled the “burrito” with meth, heroin, marijuana, and painkillers and now faces a variety of felony charges. He’s also lost his job with the state. According to the Daily Mail, Martineau told investigators that he had drugs inside his lunchbox when he got to the correctional facility.

There is clearly a growing trend when it comes to hiding drugs in burrito shaped wrapping. This can only make us wonder what’s the next food item that people will be stashing away paraphernalia in. We just hope they leave tacos out of this.

READ: Not All Burritos Are The Same! Here Are 15 Varieties You Should Try ASAP

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US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

Things That Matter

US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

Photo via Getty

They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, that saying happens to be true. New reports from federal prosecutors in New York have come out that implicate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in drug trafficking, embezzlement, and fraud.

For years, Honduras and the United States have publicly touted themselves as partners in global the war on drugs. But it seems that, privately, President Hernández felt differently.

Prosecutors allege that Hernández said that he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos”.

Federal prosecutors say that Hernández “said that he wanted to make the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration think that Honduras was fighting drug trafficking, but that instead he was going to eliminate extradition.”

The allegations against President Hernández are part of a larger drug trafficking case prosecutors have against, Geovanny Fuentes, a prolific Honduran trafficker whom authorities arrested in Miami.

Fuentes alleges that President Hernandez accepted bribes in exchange for protecting a cocaine laboratory and drug shipments headed towards the U.S. They say President Juan Orlando Hernández used his nation’s armed forces to protect huge shipments of cocaine in exchange for hefty bribes.

The case also alleges that Hernandez funneled aid money from the U.S. to non-governmental organizations.

The Honduran president isn’t explicitly named in the documents, but is instead referred to as “co-conspirator 4”. But the documents reference his political position as well as his relationship to his brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, who was also convicted of drug smuggling in 2019.

It’s worth mentioning that the 2019 case against Hernández’s brother also named President Hernández as a co-conspirator. That case alleged that President Hernández had accepted approximately $1 million in bribes from El Chapo.

President Hernández is denying the allegations and claiming that they are retaliations by cartel lords for his hardline stance against drug trafficking.

Recently, his office tweeted out: “The claim that Pres. Hernández supposedly accepted drug money from Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez, or gave protection or coordination to drug traffickers is 100% false, and appears to be based on lies of confessed criminals who seek revenge and to reduce their sentences.”

But at home, Hondurans seemed to have lost faith in their president. In fact, many are suspicious of his shady connections and seemingly never-ending scandals. Some Hondurans are reportedly worried that President Hernández may try to “illegally extend” his time in office in order to avoid prosecution by the United States”.

As of now, the prospects of him being prosecuted by the Trump administration are dubious at best.

Hernández and Trump have historically had a cozy relationship based on how fervently the Honduran president supported Trump’s strict immigration policies.

“[Indictment] will probably depend on the political will or political decision of the incoming Biden administration,” said InSight Crime senior investigator Hector Silva to Vice.

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California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Things That Matter

California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Brent Stirton / Getty Images

The world is racing to vaccinate everyone to put a stop to the relentless Covid-19 pandemic. In the U.S., states and counties are rolling out their own plans based on suggestions from health experts. California, home to the largest population of farmworkers, is making them a priority.

California has laid out their vaccination plan and farmworkers are being prioritized.

California is facing a relentless Covid-19 surge of infections, deaths, and hospitalizations. According to The New York Times, California has the second-highest level of infections per capita in the U.S. More than 30,000 people have died of Covid in California and the vaccination effort has been severely lagging.

California’s vaccination plan has been criticized for its very slow roll out.

According to the California Department of Public Health, more than 816,000 doses of the virus have been given to residents. There have been more than 2 million vaccine doses shipped to California. Currently, California, the most populated state in the country, is still in Phase 1A. Phase 1A is for healthcare workers and long-term care residents. The Vaccinate All 58 campaign claims that there are 3 million people in California in Phase 1A. Almost 40 million people live in California.

Activists have been calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to make sure that farmworkers are prioritized.

California is home to the largest concentration of farmworkers in the U.S. The Center for Farmworker Families claims that 500,000 to 800,000 farmworkers, or about 1/3 to 1/2 of the farmworker populations, live in California. Seventy-five percent of farmworkers in California are undocumented.

As the rest of the state was able to shelter in place, farmworkers did not stop working. They provided a necessary lifeline to the nation in keeping the food supply running. Farmworkers are more likely to contract Covid because of their living conditions. Studies show that the low wages that farmworkers are paid means that many live in crowded conditions.

READ: As The U.S. Rolls Out The COVID-19 Vaccine, What’s The Future Of Vaccine Access In Latin America?

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