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May 5, 2021 - WILMINGTON, Del. – A New Castle couple pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine that was shipped to them from California.  The announcement was US Department of Justicemade today by David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, after Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware accepted the plea.

According to statements made in open court, a Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) investigation revealed that Imanuel Villalba, 22, of New Castle, Delaware, was a major methamphetamine trafficker.  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Villalba was routinely getting shipments of 40 pounds of methamphetamine per week from California.  The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted his supply for several months, until he was able to get back into the methamphetamine business in June 2020.  On June 15, 2020, Villalba and his girlfriend, Hayley Carello, also 22, of New Castle, Delaware, flew together to California to order several pounds of methamphetamine with the intention of selling that methamphetamine to customers in Delaware.  Several days later, after Villalba and Carello returned to Delaware, a package containing four pounds of methamphetamine was shipped from California to Delaware.  That package was delivered to Villalba and Carello, resulting in their arrest.

Villalba and Carello each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  Villalba faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison, and Carello faces a mandatory minimum of five years.  Both are scheduled to be sentenced on September 1, 2021. Chief Judge Stark will determine their respective sentences after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Weiss stated, “Illicit drug traffickers are ravaging our communities.  Together with our law enforcement partners, my Office will continue to investigate and vigorously prosecute those who choose to engage in the illegal drug trade.” 

"Villalba and Carello were responsible for importing and distributing substantial amounts of methamphetamine," said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division.  "They received shipments, some as large as 40 pounds of methamphetamine, from California for distribution to customers in Delaware."  

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer K. Welsh and Ruth Mandelbaum are prosecuting the case. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) Group 41, which is part of the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (“HIDTA”).  The DEA received significant assistance from the Wilmington Police Department, Delaware State Police, and the Newport Police Department.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the District of Delaware or on PACER by searching for Case No. 20-cr-54 (LPS).

Source: DOJ