Inmate sentenced for coordinating Sioux Falls drug, money laundering conspiracies while in prison

Phone calls between Ray “Pato” Camacho, 38, and others were recorded by the prison, and used as evidence that led to the conviction.

Close up Wooden Law Gavel on the Table Court Courts
Close up Shiny Wooden Law Gavel in Dark Brown Color, on Top of Wooden Table at the Office.
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SIOUX FALLS — A Nebraska man was sentenced after using prison phones to orchestrate an ongoing drug distribution and money laundering scheme in Sioux Falls while incarcerated in Nebraska.

Ray “Pato” Camacho, 38, is serving a 30-year sentence in the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln after he was convicted of making terroristic threats in 2013.

On Jan. 20, a U.S. District judge in Sioux Falls handed down a 31-year sentence in a separate case after Camacho was convicted of running a drug and money laundering scheme in Sioux Falls from prison, prosecutors announced on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Ray Camacho
Contributed / Nebraska Department of Correctional Services

Prosecutors say that while Camacho was incarcerated in Nebraska, he served as the leader of a large drug trafficking organization based in Sioux Falls that was responsible for the distribution of more than 120 pounds of methamphetamine.

At least 70 pounds of that methamphetamine was seized in South Dakota, most of which came from one traffic stop in 2019, in which 50 pounds was found stored within a spare tire and other hidden compartments in the vehicle.


Court documents say Camacho, from prison, orchestrated multi-pound deliveries of and payment for methamphetamine from Mexico through three-way phone calls made from prison. The phone calls, which were recorded, were used as key evidence in the prosecution.

Camacho was indicted by a federal grand jury in March of 2021. He was found guilty on all charges as a result of a federal jury trial in November of 2022. He was the last of 22 defendants involved in the drug trafficking organization to be found guilty.

The 31-year sentence will be served concurrently with his conviction of terroristic threats in Nebraska.

The 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. Following his sentencing, Camacho was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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