03/15/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/15/2023 15:40
Montgomery, Alabama - Today, United States Attorney Sandra J. Stewart announced that Melissa Vasquez-Guardado, 25, from Houston, Texas, was found guilty of possession of heroin with intent to distribute. The jury reached its verdict on March 14, 2023.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, on July 27, 2021, law enforcement in Butler County, Alabama, stopped a vehicle on Interstate 65. The vehicle had three occupants. The driver had difficulty providing identification and stated she did not have a driver's license. Officers eventually identified the driver as Fidelia Barrera-Villanueva, 39, also from Houston, Texas. Vasquez-Guardado was a passenger in the vehicle, along with Barrera-Villanueva's 15-year-old daughter. When speaking with officers, Vasquez-Guardado and Barrera-Villanueva indicated that they were on their way to Atlanta, Georgia. Barrera-Villanueva gave officers permission to search the vehicle. During the search, officers saw a pillowcase underneath a box on the floorboard behind the front passenger seat. Inside the pillowcase were six cylindrical objects wrapped in black tape containing what turned out to be a total of 5.9 kilograms of heroin.
Following this conviction, Vasquez-Guardado faces a sentence 10 years to life in federal prison. Barrera-Villanueva previously pleaded guilty to possession of heroin with intent to distribute and could receive a maximum sentence of life in prison. A sentencing hearing for both Vasquez-Guardado and Barrera-Villanueva is scheduled for July 6, 2023.
The DEA, the Butler County Sheriff's Office, the Covington County Sherriff's Office, and the Greenville Police Department investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin P. Davidson, Justin L. Jones, and Mark E. Andreu are prosecuting the case.