A three-year long drug investigation in the Valley finished another chapter Wednesday as a man pleads guilty to knowingly conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.
Juan Lopez-Aguirre of Fishersville made a plea deal in U.S. District Court and now faces a minimum of ten years in jail. According to the evidence, Aguirre was setting up deals for distributing and selling as much as four pounds of meth at a time at several restaurants in Augusta County that he either owned or operated.
He owned Don Juan restaurant and the Assistant U.S. Attorney, Craig Jacobsen, says his arrest stopped a major drug operation in the Valley.
"He had a number of contacts, which he used to provide our informants and our sources with large amounts of methamphetamine. The meth that was provided included a very high purity, in fact the highest purity that we've seen in these parts in years, upwards of over 98-percent pure methamphetamine," says Jacobsen.
The evidence also includes several other restaurants of which Aguirre is a defacto owner in which a number of drug deals took place between several people. However, Aguirre's attorney, Joseph Painter, Jr., says the evidence doesn't prove one important thing.
"One interesting point was that not one bit of evidence shows my client ever received a penny from the drug deals that were going on," says Painter.
By making a plea agreement, Aguirre may fall under the safety valve provision, which would allow him to serve significantly less time than the mandatory minimum sentence.
"That he meets with law enforcement after his guilty plea and comes clean with his involvement in the case including who he purchased the drugs from, that that will enable the judge, if he's so inclined, to go below the mandatory ten years and sentence him according to the sentencing guidelines," says Jacobsen.
It could be months before Aguirre learns his sentence, but Jacobsen says that the investigation is by no means over. He says Aguirre's nephew, who they say managed one of the restaurants and was allegedly selling meth out of the business, has just been indicted.