A California man whose attorney said his client was forced into hauling methamphetamine has been sentenced to prison in Nebraska.
Jose Vazquez Rios was given 18 to 20 years at a hearing Thursday in Lancaster County District Court in Lincoln. He'd pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine for sale.
A sheriff’s deputy stopped Vazquez Rios July 16 on Interstate 80 near the U.S. Highway 77 exit for driving too close to the car in front of him. The deputy later found 22½ pounds (10.2 kilograms) of meth in a hidden compartment.
Defense attorney Carlos Monzón said Vazquez Rios was forced by members of a cartel into trafficking the meth because his brother got stopped with a load of drugs by law enforcement, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Vazquez Rios, of Orange, California, told investigators he knew there were drugs in his vehicle but didn't know much else. He said he was hauling the drugs to help his brother.
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Judge Kevin McManaman said Vazquez Rios knew he was carrying a lot of drugs.
"When you've got that kind of quantity of drugs, it puts the entire community at risk," McManaman said.