SIOUX FALLS - A Nebraska man has been found guilty by a South Dakota jury of running a drug ring from prison.

U.S. Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced Wednesday that 38-year-old Ray Noel Camacho, also known as Pato, was found guilty of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering by a federal jury in Sioux Falls. He was serving a 31 to 64-year prison sentence for terroristic threats and use of a firearm to commit a felony. The verdict was returned last week.

The charges, due to sentencing guidelines in Camacho’s case, carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in custody and/or a $10 million fine, life of supervised release, and a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. 

Camacho, who was from the Scottsbluff area, was indicted by a federal grand jury in August of 2021. 

Prosecutors say Camacho was the leader of a large drug trafficking organization based in the Sioux Falls area, which was responsible for the distribution of at least 120 pounds of methamphetamine.  This consisted of approximately 70 lbs. of methamphetamine seized in South Dakota alone. In May of 2019, one traffic stop led to a search and seizure of 50 pounds of methamphetamine, which was stored within a spare tire and hidden compartments within the vehicle.    

Court documents say Camacho arranged and strategically orchestrated multi-pound deliveries of methamphetamine from Mexico, and payment for said deliveries, through three-way phone calls made from the South Dakota State Penitentiary. Said calls were recorded by the prison and used as key evidence in his trial. Camacho recruited numerous co-conspirators to aid him in his organization, which included current and former inmates and individuals known to them from the outside community. Camacho is the last of 22 defendants involved in this drug trafficking organization to be found guilty. 

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation, Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force, and the IRS Criminal Investigation team. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Hodges and Paige Petersen prosecuted the case.

A presentence investigation was ordered and a sentencing date has not yet been set. The defendant was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.