Crime & Courts

Woman smuggled 60 pounds of meth to Kansas in heat-sealed bags hidden in car

A Los Angeles, California, woman charged with bringing 60 pounds of methamphetamine to Kansas in heat-sealed bags hidden in her car has pleaded guilty to a count of possession with the intent to distribute the drug.

Prosecutors say Maria Alvarez-Buenrostro, 46, on Monday admitted in a federal courtroom in Wichita that she had the drugs stashed in a rear quarter panel behind the passenger side seat and in both rear doors while she was driving in Ellis County on Feb. 12, 2019. A trooper stopped the gray Ford Explorer on Interstate 70 for a lane violation and found the drugs after asking to search the vehicle.

The meth was in 33 heat-sealed bags and weighed 27.5 kilograms — or just over 60 pounds, according to the plea agreement in the case. Alvarez-Buenrostro admitted that she was taking the drugs to a dealer to sell, the agreement says.

The price of meth varies, but a Kansas Bureau of Investigation report says its street price ranged from $3,500 to $5,000 per pound in Kansas in 2018. In 2014, meth sold for three times that price, the report says. The cost dipped with increased production and importation of Mexican meth.

Alvarez-Buenrostro is scheduled for sentencing on April 16. She is facing at least 10 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $10 million, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister’s Office said in a news release.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.