Man who packaged meth to look like burritos sentenced

LOS ANGELES — A member of a downtown Los Angeles street gang caught with thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine packaged to resemble 14 foil-wrapped burritos was sentenced Monday to 15 years behind bars for federal drug and gun crimes.

Ricardo “Flaco” Renteria, 48, of Colton, was also ordered to serve five years of supervised release following prison and pay a mandatory special assessment of $300.

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

According to evidence presented at trial, Los Angeles police officers pulled Renteria over on Feb. 3, 2018, in the Angelino Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles after they witnessed him erratically and evasively driving a white Chevrolet Tahoe.

Renteria consented to a search of the SUV and law enforcement found a black garbage bag on the floor behind the driver’s seat. Inside the bag were 14 foil-wrapped, burrito-shaped packages containing 13.7 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value ranging from $27,000 to $40,000.

A subsequent search revealed a fully loaded Smith & Wesson .38 Special handgun and more than $800 in cash, evidence showed. Renteria was arrested at the scene and indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2018.

After a one-day bench trial in March, Phillips found him guilty of three felonies: possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

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

But Phillips said that a significant prison sentence was necessary “to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant.” She also recommended that Renteria undergo a mental and physical health examination while behind bars.

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