PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A drug dealer who supplied methamphetamine to the Peoria area from across the county has been sentenced to federal prison time.

51-year-old Gabriel Antonio Montano-Rodriguez was sentenced in January to 324 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of ice methamphetamine, the United States Attorney’s Office for Central District of Illinois announced Friday.

Montano-Rodriguez is estimated to have supplied the Central Illinois area with over 23 lbs of ice methamphetamine and approximately 6 lbs of heroin in the span of ten months.

At the Jan. 13, 2023, sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid, the government presented evidence that Montano-Rodriguez would personally transport ice methamphetamine and heroin from Arizona, where he was operating, to the Peoria area. In one trip alone, Montano-Rodriguez brought 15 lbs of meth to sell.

Judge Shadid found during the trial that Montano-Rodriguez had prior convictions for federal marijuana conspiracy, illegal reentry, and transportation of undocumented immigrants.

Montano-Rodriguez has been deported from the United States four times and has left voluntarily on other occasions. He had been living in Arizona illegally, the government argued at his trial.

Three Peoria drug dealers who distributed for Montano-Rodriguez have been prosecuted by the federal government and are serving in the Bureau of Prisons. One additional person was prosecuted by the State of Illinois and sentenced to time in state prison.

“The Pekin Police Department’s partnership with the DEA unleashes a host of resources that allows our team of experienced, dedicated, sharp-shooting detectives to work on cases like these,” said Pekin Police Department Chief John Dossey. “Montano-Rodriguez could have landed anywhere in the United States to deal drugs—and to the immense credit of the case agent who tirelessly pursued him—this sentence makes clear that Montano-Rodriguez should have chosen elsewhere. Our Department’s focus and decades-long legacy to keep communities safe by disrupting drug dealers at the top of the food chain will continue.”

Montano-Rodriguez was indicted in Sept. 2021 and arrested in Nov. 2021 in Texas. He was transported to Central Illinois in Dec. 2021 and pleaded guilty in June 2022.

The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Pekin Police Department investigated this case, with valuable assistance provided by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Canton Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine G. Legge represented the government in the prosecution.