By Shereen Siewert

MADISON — A 37-year-old Pomona, Cal. man is the 20th person convicted in a massive conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine in the Wausau and Merrill area, according to the Department of Justice.

Marcos Castaneda pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Madison to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. Castaneda faces life in prison, with a minimum sentence of 10 years in federal custody.

According to a DOJ news release issued early Friday, from June 2013 to May 2016, methamphetamine was brought into Wisconsin from Minnesota on a weekly basis, averaging one pound per week. In late 2015 and early 2016 as demand exploded, the trafficking increased to up to 3 pounds each week. In all, prosecutors estimate that about 127 pounds of methamphetamine were distributed, with a street value of more than $5.7 million.

The methamphetamine came from Pomona, California and was transported by drivers using rental cars to the Minneapolis area. From there, the meth was distributed by an organized network of drug wholesalers and retailers in central Wisconsin, landing in multiple communities including Wausau, Merrill, Medford, Abbotsford, and other cities.

“The marketing plan of the organization was to flood these communities with inexpensive, pure and plentiful methamphetamine in an attempt to create more addicts, and, therefore, more customers,” according to the DOJ release.

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This chart identifies all defendants convicted so far in the case and their sentences. Source: Department of Justice

Castaneda is set to be sentenced Feb. 16 in Madison before U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson.