AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A member of a Mexican drug cartel is going to prison for drug trafficking.

On Wednesday, August 8, in Augusta Circuit Court, 28-year-old Mexico native Luis Antonio Cardenas-Romero was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for drug distribution and racketeering.

He pleaded guilty to these charges back in February.

According to court testimony, Cardenas-Romero - who is in the United States illegally - was originally found with close to four pounds of methamphetamine in his possession. That's a street value of $170,000.

Before his sentencing, the judge said, “the harm that methamphetamine does is beyond comprehension,” and described the amount Cardenas-Romero had as unfathomable.

Press Release from the Office of the Attorney General:

RICHMOND (August 8, 2018) – Luis Antonio Cardenas-Romero, 28, of Augusta County, was sentenced today to 20 years in jail for racketeering and distributing nearly half a ton of methamphetamine in the Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County area.

The case was handled by prosecutors from the office of Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin, who announced the sentence after it was imposed by Augusta County Circuit Judge W. Chapman Goodwin who called the amount of meth and the damage it caused the community “unfathomable”.

“As Attorney General, it is my top priority to keep Virginians and their families safe,” said Attorney General Herring. “Individuals who distribute illegal, dangerous drugs like methamphetamine jeopardize the safety of our communities and should be held accountable. My team and I will continue to work with local and federal partners to bring criminals to justice and off our streets.”

According to court documents, in February of 2017, investigators with the Skyline Drug and Gang Task Force, as part of multiple ongoing investigations, identified Cardenas-Romero, a native of Michoacan, Mexico, as a mid-level source of methamphetamine connected to a Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization.

Through continued investigation, investigators seized more than four pounds of methamphetamine with a street value in excess of $170,000, and two vehicles from Cardenas-Romero’s residence.

Cardenas-Romero was indicted by the Shenandoah Valley Multi-Jurisdiction Grand Jury in connection with these offenses and in February 2018, he pleaded guilty to racketeering (RICO) and to distribution of 200 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine.

Virginia Assistant Attorney General Phil Figura of the Attorney General’s Major Crimes and Emerging Threats Section and Augusta County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Joseph Lee prosecuted the case for the Commonwealth.