Public Safety

California man sentenced to 5 years for assisting father in multinational meth ring with connections in Iowa

He was 'eyes and ears' for his father in Iowa drug distribution

CEDAR RAPIDS — A California man who assisted his father, a convicted “drug kingpin,” in a multinational drug trafficking ring, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to more than five years in prison.

Jose L. Alvarez, 25, of Riverside, Calif., pleaded in March to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

In 2013, his father, Jose Maria Valencia of La Ruana, Michoacan, was sent to California state prison after being convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. While in prison, Valencia continued to run his drug trafficking organization. He ultimately directed the distribution of more than 250 pounds of ice methamphetamine from his prison cell.

Valencia relied on his son, as well as others, to assist him with the drug trafficking, according to court documents. He used contraband items in prison, such as cellphones, and arranged to import meth from Mexico into the United States, according to his plea agreement in 2018.

Once the meth arrived in the U.S., it was transported to various locations, including Iowa, typically concealed in vehicles. The shipments and operations would be monitored through social media sites by Valencia, the plea agreement showed.

Alvarez traveled to Iowa on multiple occasions to serve as Valencia’s eyes and ears, and reported back to Valencia on the status of organization, according to court documents. Alvarez also collected money for the sale of meth in Iowa.

Alvarez was a fugitive for more than two years until his arrest in September 2019.

Valencia was convicted in U.S. District Court in 2018 for conspiracy to distribute at least 500 grams of meth by a drug felon.


U.S. District Senior Judge Linda Reade sentenced Alvarez to 70 months in prison. He also was ordered to serve five years on supervised release following his prison term.

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