News Release
February 5, 2008

New York Man Sentenced to 5 Years and 10 Months for Trafficking Over 1400 Pounds of Marijuana

FEB 5 -- BOWLING GREEN, KY - Leon Anthony Bell, age 42, of Bronx, New York, was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months imprisonment in United States District Court, Bowling Green, Kentucky, for distributing marijuana, U.S. Attorney David L. Huber of the Western District of Kentucky announced today. Thomas B. Russell, Judge, United States District Court, also sentenced Bell to 4 years supervised release following incarceration. There is no parole in the federal judicial system.

Bell had pleaded guilty to trafficking over 1400 pounds of marijuana on May 27, 2007. The estimated street value of the marijuana is $2.8 million. Co-defendant Kermit Aber Garriques pled guilty on December 19, 2007, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 31, 2008, at 12:00 p.m. in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Garriques admitted that on May 27, 2007, he was the driver of a tractor trailer, when a Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement (KVE) officer stopped the vehicle on Interstate 65 near Bowling Green, Kentucky for a safety inspection. Bell was a passenger in the tractor trailer being driven by Garriques and was traveling to Ohio to distribute the marijuana. During the routine stop, the officer became suspicious when he observed a number of problems including a lack of truck registration, a lack of required “driver’s rest” from the logs, Garriques’ suspicious behavior which included tossing the keys to the trailer onto the roof of the vehicle, and the truck being several hundred miles off course. During the inspection, the officer located and seized approximately 1405 pounds of marijuana concealed in the trailer. A K-9 unit picked up the scent of the drugs which resulted in the seizure. Bell admitted he was present when the vehicle was being loaded in Houston, Texas, a known source city for illegal narcotics. The estimated street value of the marijuana is $2.8 million.

U.S. Attorney Huber praised the Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement in “their continued police actions against illegal drug shipments. They are an essential local partner in the policing of a major north-south commercial artery.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert B. Bonar. The Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation.