Major Drug Trafficking and Money-Laundering Conspiracy Sentenced to Prison

St. George, Utah – A foreign national was sentenced today to 10 years’ imprisonment after he admitted to distributing large quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and marijuana in St. George.

According to court documents, Angel Rubio-Quintana, 42, of St. George, Utah, was first discovered by agents in March 2020, after learning that an individual in St. George was receiving large amounts of methamphetamine from a Mexican cartel. During an extensive investigation dubbed “Operation Sour Cream,” agents learned that Mr. Rubio-Quintana led the organization’s efforts to import and distribute drugs from Mexico. Between October 2021 and February 2022, agents intercepted over 200 phone calls in which Mr. Rubio-Quintana negotiated drug prices and quantities with his Mexican drug suppliers. Agents conducted at least 13 controlled buys in which they purchased methamphetamine and fentanyl from conspiracy members. In the first controlled buy, the drugs were delivered in a large sour cream bucket that contained methamphetamine. This case involves thousands of fentanyl pills, 3.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, and 45 pounds of marijuana. Between June 2021 and January 2022, Rubio-Quintana’s organization sent over 60 wire transfers to Mexican drug suppliers, totaling over $58,000. As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Rubio-Quintana has agreed to forfeit $23,666. He faces deportation following his 121 months prison sentence.

“Mr. Rubio-Quintana’s actions jeopardized the safety of the St. George community,” said U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins of the District of Utah. “Not only did he distribute dangerous narcotics, but he also took advantage of naïve young people convincing them to join in his conspiracy. We appreciate the efforts of all law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation and in removing this harm from our communities.”

“The community in Southern Utah can now feel safer knowing Mr. Rubio-Quintana was sentenced to a long time in prison,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheyvoryea Gibson of the Salt Lake City FBI. “As the head of a drug trafficking organization, Rubio-Quintana was responsible for importing deadly drugs into St. George and other areas in the Western United States. He even recruited young members of the community, including his own teenage son, to participate in the local drug trade. It is the FBI’s mission, along with our law enforcement partners, to ensure our communities remain safe. This sentencing serves as a warning to others that drug trafficking will result in serious consequences.”

“Mr. Rubio-Quintana was the leader of one of the most prolific and sophisticated drug trafficking organizations in Southern Utah. His sentencing, along with the dismantlement of his distribution network, signifies the Drug Enforcement Administration’s relentless pursuit of individuals distributing poison throughout our communities,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dustin Gillespie. “Today’s sentencing is the result of a strong collaborative effort with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in Utah.”

The case was investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Washington County Drug Task Force.

Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen P. Dent and Angela M. Reddish-Day of the District of Utah prosecuted the case.