Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hailey man gets 5 years for dealing meth

Prosecution continues after major drug bust

Express Staff Writer

Ramero Snow Hernandez Francisco Vega-Salinas

Another suspect from last April's major Blaine County drug bust was sentenced to prison Monday in 5th District Court in Hailey.

Ramero Snow Hernandez, a 21-year-old Hailey resident, was given a five-year prison term. He must spend two years behind bars before he's eligible for parole. Judge Robert J. Elgee gave Hernandez credit for nearly seven months the defendant has already spent in Blaine County custody.

Hernandez pleaded guilty in August to a single count of delivery of methamphetamine, an offense that is punishable in Idaho by up to life in prison. The defendant was originally charged in a Blaine County grand jury indictment with eight drug felonies.

Elgee said he was hesitant to impose a prison sentence because of the defendant's age.

"But dealing is dealing and it doesn't matter how you got there," the judge said.

The sentence was consistent with a recommendation from the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, which worked out a plea agreement with Hernandez prior to his guilty plea.

Hernandez is the second drug dealer to be sentenced to prison following grand jury indictments in April against 13 suspects. Ten of the thirteen have entered guilty pleas. Charges were dismissed against one suspect and court action is still pending against the other two.

Also in court Monday was Franciso Vega-Salinas, a 28-year-old Bellevue man who was indicted by the grand jury on four felony charges.

In accord with a plea agreement, Vega-Salinas entered a guilty plea to one count of delivery of methamphetamine.

Vega-Salinas, a Wood River High School graduate, told the court that he is not a U.S. citizen but has legal residency in the United States.

Elgee informed the defendant that he may face deportation because of his guilty plea. Sentencing was scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2008.

Vega-Salinas has remained free on the $40,000 bond that he posted shortly after his arrest last April.

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