Former Hamblen County crystal-meth dealer Trinidad Balderas Jr. was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison.
The difference between the time Balderas got and the 10-year mandatory minimum relates to his prior convictions and that he accepted responsibility for trafficking more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, according to court documents.
Balderas, a 34-year-old Florida native, was the leader of a four-defendant conspiracy and was holding 1.4 pounds of crystal meth, $24,000 in drug-sales proceeds, two handguns and a Kel Tec 9mm machine pistol when Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigators executed a search warrant at his White Oak Grove Road residence in August 2019.
In exchange for the guilty plea, federal prosecutors dropped a firearm charge, which would have added five years to his federal prison term. Prosecutors did not seek indictments for possession of heroin, cocaine or Ecstasy, all of which were found at the residence.
Balderas is an illiterate high school dropout who has fathered 10 children outside marriage and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, his attorney, Greeneville lawyer Curt Collins wrote in the defense sentencing memorandum.
“Mr. Balderas confirms and recognizes that he has social issues, which have affected his entire life regarding relationships, specifically maintaining relationships with his children,” the sentencing memo states.
The U.S. attorney’s office also elected not to pursue marijuana-trafficking charges against Balderas.
While searching his home he shared with codefendant Tawauna Sheron Boutwell, deputies found a large UPS box that contained empty vacuum-sealed bags that smelled of marijuana and contained marijuana residue, according to Lt. Gene Watson, who heads up narcotics investigations for the sheriff’s department.
Authorities checked with the Morristown UPS office and learned that a package was to be delivered to Balderas and Boutwell’s home, and were waiting when the package arrived.
The parcel allegedly contained 30 1-pound, vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana, according to Watson.