U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Arizona
District of Arizona
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Dennis K. Burke, United States Attorney
Contact: Robbie Sherwood
Member of Home Invasion Crew Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison
TUCSON – Juan Manuel Meraz, 31, of Tucson, was sentenced today to 180 months imprisonment for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, by U.S. District Court Judge Raner C. Collins.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives learned that co-defendant Carlos Diaz was interested in conducting home invasions of houses that contained large amounts of marijuana, for the purpose of stealing the marijuana and selling it for profit. Tucson Police Department officers, acting in an undercover capacity, met with Diaz to orchestrate such a home invasion. Diaz told the undercover officers that he had a crew of individuals ready to commit a home invasion and steal up to 3,000 pounds of marijuana, and that his crew would be armed with guns and ready to shoot the occupants of the home.
On January 27, 2009, Juan Manuel Meraz, Diaz, and six additional co-defendants arrived to conduct the home invasion. Meraz had recruited three of the co-defendants to conduct the home invasion, and drove himself and his three recruits to the meeting location. The group was armed with four fully loaded semiautomatic handguns. All eight of the defendants confirmed that they were armed and ready to commit a home invasion for the purpose of stealing a load of marijuana. Meraz was armed with a loaded .45 caliber pistol, which he attempted to hide upon his arrest. The defendants were all subsequently arrested and charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense. Four of the eight co-defendants pleaded guilty and each has been sentenced to at least five years prison. Meraz and the remaining three co-defendants were all convicted on December 27, 2010, following a jury trial. Diaz was sentenced to 12.5 years prison on March 14, 2001, and the two other co-defendants are set to be sentenced on June 24, 2011.
The investigation leading to the conviction was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Tucson Police Department; with assistance from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. The prosecution was handled by Angela Woolridge, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Tucson,abbr>Ariz
CASE NUMBER: CR-09-0284-004-TUC-RCC
RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-095(Meraz)
For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/