He tried to roll 5 pounds of meth through LAX. It didn’t fly

An orange wall sign reads "Los Angeles" as a foot and a rolling suitcase are about o step out of the frame to the left.
Travelers at Los Angeles International Airport in 2022. A Los Angeles man traveling with a large roller bag was stopped at LAX last year when he attempted to pass through security with 5 pounds of methamphetamine.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles man received a 12-year federal prison sentence Friday for attempting to transport 5 pounds of methamphetamine through LAX last year, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Kiyonte Levell Sowell, 22, pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in the February 2022 incident.

The arrest came as a result of a DEA wiretap of a drug organization run by one of Sowell’s relatives, David Belton, 37, of Compton, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release.


In February 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration received information that a large amount of methamphetamine would be transported from California to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Investigators tracked a rental struck carrying the drugs from Los Angeles and stopped it in Nebraska, seizing 60 pounds of methamphetamine.

Kevin Ray James has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of Monica Lynne Leech during a 1997 bank robbery in Thousand Oaks, authorities said.

March 10, 2023

After the seizure, Belton continued purchasing methamphetamine.

In one conversation, Belton told Sowell to get “a big ass suitcase” but to pack light.

“You already know what the rest is,” Belton said.

Sowell went to LAX the next day with a large roller bag but was stopped when he attempted to pass through security.

Airport security had X-rayed the case and found multiple bags of a substance hidden under clothes.

Security eventually searched the bag and discovered about 5 pounds of methamphetamine, at which point Sowell was arrested.

Ten others, including Belton, were charged in the same indictment and were awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty or being found guilty.


Belton pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.