Pair arrested in Cortlandville meth bust could face life in prison, DEA says

Kyle M. Leeper, 35, no known address; Arlene N. Rodriquez, 35, of Montebello, Calif. (Cortland County Sheriff's Office)

A pair facing federal drug charges for a Cortlandville meth bust could each face life in prison and a $10 million fine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Kyle Leeper, 35, of Pennsylvania and Arlene Rodriguez, 35, of Almonte, California were arraigned in Federal Court on Wednesday in Syracuse, the DEA announced in a news release. Leeper, who was initially listed as homeless, and Rodriguez were indicted on charges of “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine, as well as firearms offenses,” according to the release.

Leeper and Rodriguez were also both indicted for using and carrying a gun as part of a drug trafficking ring, while Leeper was also charged with criminal possession of a gun and ammunition as he is prohibited from owning the items, according to the release.

If convicted of drug conspiracy and possession of meth with the intent to distribute the drug, Leeper and Rodriguez could each be sentenced up to life in prison and a $10 million fine, the DEA noted. The minimum sentence for such a conviction would be 10 years in prison, according to the administration.

Leeper and Rodriguez could also be sentenced to an additional five years in prison if convicted of carrying and using a gun as part of a drug trafficking ring, according to the release. Leeper faces an additional potential decade-long sentence for illegally possessing a gun and ammunition, as well as another $250,000 fine, the release notes.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Therese Wiley-Dancks ordered Leeper and Rodriguez be held in federal prison at their arraignment until they appear before U.S. District Court Judge David N. Hurd, according to the release.

Leeper and Rodriguez were arrested after a Cortland County Sheriff’s Office deputy discovered four pounds of meth and a loaded semi-automatic gun in their vehicle during a traffic stop, according to the department. Officers also discovered cash, police said, but the amount was not released.

The amount of meth discovered in the bust is large compared to the federal statutes prohibiting distribution of the drug. Federal law requires a person have at least 50 grams of meth before that person can be charged with Schedule I drug trafficking, according to a Congressional research report. Four pounds of meth is more than 36 times that federal threshold.

District Attorney Pat Perfetti and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick could not be reached for comment this afternoon.