Cartel-connected gang leader in Craven County sentenced to 35 years in federal prison

RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) – A federal judge has sentenced a cartel-connected Craven County gang leader to 35 years in prison.

According to the US Attorney’s office in Raleigh, 45-year-old Ivan Medina-Beltran pled guilty to drug trafficking and gun charges on March 3rd. Court documents say that Medina-Beltran is the leader of an armed drug-trafficking organization that they say is responsible for moving large amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl in and around Craven County.

Court documents show that Medina-Beltran is an undocumented noncitizen from Sonora, Mexico.

“Medina-Beltran supplied kilogram quantities of fentanyl and methamphetamine to the New Bern area. He even tried to coordinate the shipment of nearly a kilogram of highly pure methamphetamine to Eastern North Carolina while he was held in jail,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “The 35-year sentence stands as a warning to would-be drug traffickers. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with Craven County every day to keep deadly narcotics off our streets, and dismantling the drug-trafficking networks that supply them.”

According to court documents and other information presented in court, the Craven County Sheriff’s Office worked in coordination with federal, state, and local law enforcement to carry out an investigation into what they said was a cartel-connected drug trafficking organization responsible for bringing large amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl from the southwest U.S. border and distributing them in and around Craven County.

Records show that through the use of confidential sources, surveillance, and controlled buys, law enforcement was able to identify several high-level operatives in the organization, including the leader, Medina-Beltran.

On October 31, 2022, documents show that multiple search warrants were executed at homes associated with the organization, including the home of Medina-Beltran. The search of his home yielded cocaine, an AR-15 style 5.56 rifle, a .45 caliber handgun, and cash.

Court documents also show that while he was in pretrial custody, Medina-Beltran coordinated a shipment of ice methamphetamine from California to Eastern North Carolina, which was also seized by law enforcement.

Easley’s office said that multiple people associated with the organization, including two other high-level members have been indicted. Xavier Garza pled guilty to drug trafficking and firearm charges on May 16, 2023. Sentencing is pending in his case.

“This prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office has eliminated a major source of methamphetamine and fentanyl in Craven County,” said Sheriff Chip Hughes. “The Craven County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Bureau will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate, arrest, and prosecute drug traffickers.”