Major Poly-Drug Trafficking Organization Takes Big Hit in Arizona
DEC 11 -- PHOENIX – Elizabeth W. Kempshall, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Phoenix Field Division joined Dennis Burke, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, to announce the unsealing of a 6-count federal indictment late yesterday following the arrests of four of the defendants. All four individuals were indicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine, conspiracy to import cocaine and methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The leader of this drug trafficking organization (DTO), was also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, while a second one was also charged with use of a communication facility (a telephone) in the commission of a felony pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act.
“Today we have taken another important step in our fight against drug trafficking,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Elizabeth W. Kempshall. “Thanks to the cooperative success of this investigation, we have identified a significant cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking organization and disrupted their ability to operate throughout Arizona and beyond.”
The indictment alleges that between January 2009 and December 2009, the defendants were members of a drug trafficking organization that imported kilogram quantities of cocaine and pound quantities of methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States and then distributed those narcotics to DTO customers. The four defendants had their initial appearances on December 9, 2009. Two defendants, including the leader, were detained. The remaining two are scheduled for detention hearings on December 11 th and December 15 th.
A conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine, conspiracy to import cocaine and methamphetamine, or possession with intent to distribute cocaine all carry a maximum penalty of life in federal prison, a $4,000,000 fine or both. A conviction for conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the monetary amount transported, or both. A conviction for use of a communication facility carries a maximum penalty of four years in federal prison, $250,000 fine, or both. In determining an actual sentence, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Martone 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.
An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Phoenix Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Surprise Police Department, Mesa Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, and Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. The prosecution is being handled by Jonell L. Lucca, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
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