Pedro Ayala-Leyva gets record 30-year sentence for smuggling meth from California

"Peli" led a drug trafficking ring that shipped meth from California to the Twin Cities suburbs.
"Peli" led a drug trafficking ring that shipped meth from California to the Twin Cities suburbs.

On Tuesday, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu doled out a record sentence for a Minnesota drug crime and sentenced Pedro "Peli" Ayala-Leyva to 30 years in prison for his role in a large methamphetamine operation.

Peli, 37, was found guilty in October of conspiracy to traffic drugs. State sentencing guidelines called for a seven-year sentence, but the Hennepin County Attorney's Office decided to seek "an upward departure."

-- In scene reminiscent of Breaking Bad, St. Paul police bust mobile meth lab
-- Nicole Denzer of Circle Pines, 23, used her vagina to smuggle meth into jail
-- Stillwater couple's pock-faced, cross-eyed mugshots double as anti-meth advertising

"It's good to give the ringleaders and kingpins the significant prison time they deserve," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement.

One of the dealers Peli supplied with meth -- Koua "Jimmy" Yang of Minneapolis -- was selling high-end "blue" shards, according to St. Paul police, though he apparently got the blue stuff from a local source.

"This isn't bathtub meth," St. Paul police Commander Dave Korus said back in March, according to a Pioneer Press report. "This was very, very good....Solid chunks."

That same PiPress report contains details about Peli's role in the meth ring. "In Ayala-Leyva's room, investigators [on February 20] found a pair of Mexican passports and papers they believed were 'drug notes,' including itemized expenses for food and gas relating to drug-laden car trips from California."

The Hennepin County press release provides more information about Peli's involvement:

Ayala-Levy was associated with the La Familia Michoacana Mexican drug cartel. Police and FBI investigators used wiretaps and surveillance to build the case and seized 16 pounds of meth, worth more than $500,000, and two handguns...

The case involved smuggling meth from California to Ayala-Leyva's stash house in Brooklyn Park and another in Cottage Grove. The drugs were then distributed through their network, which extended into St. Paul, St. Cloud and Eau Claire, Wis. The case peaked on Feb. 18 when investigators asked the Minnesota State Patrol to stop Daniel Samorano as he was driving a red Subaru Outback from California. The stop was made in Lakeville and a search of the car revealed a hidden compartment and 10 pounds of methamphetamine.

According to the PiPress, Somorano wasn't immediately arrested, and called Peli shortly after being pulled over. The conversation was tapped by authorities. Somorano told Peli, "Something is weird here for real," to which Peli replied with a curse word.

Last winter, officers watched Peli exchange meth with another dealer near the deli section of the Festival Foods in Brooklyn Park, the Star Tribune reports. Not too long after, officers wrapped up an eight-month investigation with 20 arrests.

Ten figured in the drug ring have already been convicted, and eight alleged lower-level participants will go on trial early next year.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >