TUCSON, AZ. – On December 12, Evelio Cervantes-Conde, 39, a Cuban immigrant lawfully residing in the United States, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Raner Collins to 151 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Five Kilograms of Cocaine and Attempt to Possess Five Kilograms of Cocaine. He was convicted of both counts in his indictment by a federal jury on May 27, 2011, after a two week-long trial.
“This sentencing is the result of federal and local law enforcement working together to effectively dismantle major drug smuggling organizations," said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. "DEA and its partners are committed to follow through and bring those individuals responsible to justice as well as to block their smuggling routes into this county,” he added.
“This defendant and his co-conspirators attempted to carry out an ill-conceived plan that would have resulted in illicit drugs being trafficked through Tucson and ultimately ending up on the streets of Miami, Florida,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “But for this defendant and his co-conspirators their foiled plan will land them in a federal prison for the next decade.”
In March, 2009, Tucson DEA agents received information from sources in Mexico that an individual, later identified as Michel Martinez, was interested in purchasing cocaine. Over the next several weeks undercover agents conversed with co-defendants Martinez and Hiraldo Neyra-Agramonte, also Cuban immigrants lawfully residing in the United States, about price and quantity. By April 9, 2009, the three suspects had agreed to purchase five kilograms of cocaine for $90,000 from the undercover agents.
The deal was scheduled to take place on April 14, 2009 at a previously specified location in Tucson. Law enforcement agents swarmed the buy-site and all suspects were arrested without incident. Evidence at trial showed that the three co-defendants had planned to reformulate the 5 kg (approx. 11 lbs.) of powder cocaine into crack cocaine, and then sell it on the streets of Miami for a $40,000 profit. Evidence at trial also showed that during their negotiations, they had further expressed interest in maintaining a continuing supply of cocaine through Tucson, by way of Mexico.
In addition to Cervantes-Conde’s 12-1/2 year prison sentence, the $90,000 and two vehicles were seized and forfeited by law enforcement agencies. Co-defendants Martinez and Neyra-Agramonte were tried and sentenced earlier and received 151 months and 121 months in prison, respectively.
The investigation in this case was conducted by Drug Enforcement Administration based in Tucson, with invaluable help from the 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.