Lengthy prison sentence for drug trafficker involved in 2015 pursuit that ended in Mountain Creek Lake



Video of chase on July 2, 2015 – ©Bob Fitch/Grand Prairie Reporter

Santiago Veliz, 29, of Dallas, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle to 140 months in federal prison following his guilty plea in May 2016 to a felony Information charging one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

Veliz’s co-conspirator, Iran Zavala, also 29 and from Dallas, was sentenced by Judge Boyle in August 2016 to 235 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty in April 2016 to the same offense.

According to documents filed in the case, beginning in approximately June 2015, Veliz, Zavala and others agreed to distribute methamphetamine. On approximately June 29, 2015, Zavala negotiated the sale of two kilograms of methamphetamine for $32,000 to a person he later learned was an undercover law enforcement officer.

A few days later, on July 2, 2015, Veliz and Zavala traveled to a gas station on N. Beltline Road in Grand Prairie, Texas, to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine to a person Veliz believed to be one of Zavala’s customers. They had both the methamphetamine and a handgun belonging to Zavala in their pickup truck. However, prior to the drug transaction being completed, law enforcement in marked patrol cars attempted to pull over their vehicle. Rather than stop, Zavala fled in the truck at a high rate of speed, and during the chase, Zavala threw the methamphetamine out of the driver’s side window. The firearm was thrown out of the passenger side window.

At Zavala’s sentencing hearing, testimony was presented that Zavala intentionally drove his pickup truck at a high rate of speed toward an officer with the Grand Prairie Police Department who was attempting to lay a spike strip in the road to deflate the tires on Zavala’s fleeing vehicle. Zavala is charged in a pending Dallas County case with Aggravated Assault of a Public Servant.

The pursuit ended when Zavala drove his truck into Mountain Creek Lake where it collided with a sailboat near the boat ramp. Both Zavala and Veliz were arrested. The firearm, a 9-milimeter semi-automatic pistol, was recovered and ordered forfeited to the government.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Grand Prairie Police Department investigated the case. Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Calvert was in charge of the prosecution.