PHOENIX, AZ. – Doug Coleman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Phoenix Field Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel announced that Ernest Mark Chrzaszcz, 35, of Queen Creek, Arizona, was found guilty by a jury on December 8, 2011 of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin, Cocaine and Marijuana, Possession with Intent to Distribute One Kilogram or more of Heroin, Possession with Intent to Distribute 5 Kilograms or more of Cocaine, and, Possession with Intent to Distribute 100 Kilograms or more of Marijuana. The case was tried before U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg and the sentencing is set for February 21, 2012. The defendant is being held until sentencing.
“The drug trade has become a losing proposition for traffickers,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we have dismantled a significant poly-drug smuggling organization and disrupted their ability to operate throughout Arizona and beyond. Arizona citizens are now safer as this organization lies in shambles.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel stated: “This case sends a strong message to drug traffickers that if they want to use Arizona as a drug transshipment point - they will be vigorously prosecuted and held responsible for the damage they inflict on our communities for their personal gain. We appreciate all the work that our law enforcement partners provided in this investigation and prosecution. Their efforts dismantled a large scale drug transportation organization that will no longer be available to aid drug cartels from Mexico.”
The evidence at trial showed that Chrzaszcz was stopped on July 19, 2009 while driving a tractor trailer near Payson, Arizona, with 55 kilograms of cocaine, nine kilograms of heroin and 135 kilograms of marijuana valued at over $2 million dollars. He and his family rented a warehouse to store and package the drugs in the name of their Arizona corporation. They then used a corporate truck to transport the drugs. Chrzaszcz had fled to Europe to avoid prosecution and was extradited back to Arizona to face charges.
The evidence showed that Chrzaszcz and his family worked as part of a larger drug transportation cell that would ship large amounts of drugs from Mexican sources of supply operating in Arizona to their customers throughout the United States. The transportation cell would move drugs throughout the U.S. and bring millions of dollars to Arizona for transfer to the sources of supply in Mexico. Additionally, on August 9, 2009, New Mexico State Police stopped two individual truck drivers and seized 20 kilograms of cocaine that had been loaded in Phoenix. Law enforcement later seized $1.17 million from the same organization.
The defendant faces 10 years to life in prison. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Teilborg will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Scottsdale Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Larson and Marni Guerrero, District of Arizona, Phoenix.