In March, 2009, Tucson Drug Enforcement Administration agents were informed by their Hermosillo, Mexico, district office that an individual, later identified as Michel Martinez, was interested in purchasing large quantities of cocaine. Over the next several weeks, undercover agents conversed with Martinez about price and quantity. Martinez further explained that he and his partners had a successful means of delivering money and cocaine across the country via semi trucks.
The deal was scheduled to take place on April 14, 2009, in Tucson. Martinez drove down from his home in Las Vegas, while co-defendant Hiraldo Neyra drove a semi-truck from Miami, Florida. Cervantes-Conde was believed to be traveling with Neyra and was the primary contributor of the $90,000 buy money that this sting ultimately netted. Federal and local agents apprehended all three defendants without incident.
The defendants had planned to take the 22 pounds worth of cocaine and reformulate it as crack and sell it on the streets of Miami for a $40,000 profit. During their negotiations, they had expressed interest in maintaining a continuing supply of Mexican cocaine by way of Tucson. Martinez and Neyra were convicted by a federal jury in July, 2010 and each is now serving 10-12 years in prison.
Cervantes-Conde’s trial was severed and he was tried separately, at the request of his defense attorney because he had previous arrests for similar conduct which the government sought to introduce in his trial. In addition to the prison sentence facing Cervantes-Conde, the cash, the semi-truck and the late-model Pacifica that Mr. Martinez drove to Tucson, were all seized by law enforcement agencies and forfeited.
The investigation in this case was conducted by DEA based in Tucson, with invaluable help from the Tucson Counter Narcotics Alliance - a task force made up of local law enforcement from different agencies. The prosecution and trial were handled by Micah Schmit and David Flannigan, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.
For more information on DEA, visit http://www.dea.gov.