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Taft drug trafficker pleads guilty to drug conspiracy

(FRESNO, Calif.) – Mario Alvarez-Muniz, 49, a citizen of Mexico and former resident of Taft, entered a guilty plea today to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. 

According to court documents, in December 2016, Alvarez-Muniz delivered two pounds of methamphetamine during an undercover operation, but subsequently left the United States for Mexico.  He returned to the United States and in May of 2017, orchestrated a shipment of six kilograms of heroin and 11 kilograms of cocaine from Bakersfield to Chicago.  The drugs were intercepted by law enforcement and the defendant was ultimately arrested.  

Alvarez-Muniz was previously detained as a flight risk and danger to the community and is scheduled for sentencing on January 22, 2018.  Alvarez-Muniz faces a mandatory minimum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison, along with a $10 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Darrell Leon Jennings, 49, a codefendant in the case, is currently a fugitive.

This case was the product of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Police Department, and Kern County Probation Office. The OCDETF Program is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General's drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and related criminal enterprises. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.


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