Operation Blockbuster dismantled a local drug-trafficking organization that smuggled hundreds of kilograms of cocaine worth millions of dollars from Mexico to distribute in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Operation Blockbuster was a multi-agency investigation that also involved the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas, resulting in three separate indictments charging 31 defendants.
Dandrae L. Jones, also known as “Bird,” 35, and Edward W. Jefferson, 39, also known as “Black Walt,” both of Kansas City, were found guilty on Thursday, June 20, 2011, of a drug conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine from Jan. 1, 2007, to Feb. 11, 2010, which was charged in a Feb. 11, 2010, federal indictment. Jefferson was also found guilty of using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine. Miguel Villa, 31, of St. Paul, was found guilty of bulk cash smuggling for attempting to transport $300,000 in hidden compartments of a Ford F-150 truck.
Co-defendants Marlon Jordan, 29, and Michael D. Davis, 26, both of Kansas City, MO, pleaded guilty earlier this month to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
In two separate but related cases, five defendants have been convicted at trial and 15 pleaded guilty.
Evidence introduced during the trial indicated that the leader of the conspiracy, Alejandro S. Corredor, also known as “Lou Lou,” “Rolo,” and “Alex,” 36, a citizen of Colombia residing in Kansas City, MO, had connections with a Mexican drug cartel. Corredor is among the defendants who pleaded guilty in a separate but related case.
Corredor called his supplier in Mexico to order cocaine to be delivered to the Kansas City metropolitan area. A normal load of cocaine would be from 20 to 50 kilograms, which was smuggled in vehicles driven to Kansas City from Mexico. After Corredor sold the cocaine and collected the money, he packaged the cash in bundles that were hidden in false compartments of various vehicles. The vehicles would then deliver the money to the El Paso, Texas area, where it would be transported across the border into Mexico.
Jones, a local rap artist and owner of Block Life Entertainment, was one of Corredor’s biggest distributors in the Kansas City area. Corredor invested from $200,000 to 250,000 in Block Life Entertainment, and allowed Jones to live rent-free in one of his residential properties.
Jefferson was also a rap artist and one of Corredor’s distributors. Villa was a courier who transported $300,000 in drug-trafficking proceeds from Kansas City to Mexico in hidden compartments of his Ford F-150 truck.
During Operation Blockbuster, law enforcement officers seized large quantities of cocaine and marijuana and millions of dollars in drug proceeds. For example, while executing a search warrant at a Kansas City, Missouri residence, officers seized 46 kilogram-bundles of cocaine, $151,000, and a drug ledger. The ledger showed that during a four-month period, this drug-trafficking organization distributed more than 800 kilograms of cocaine and received $10 million in drug proceeds.
Law enforcement officers also seized more than $1.6 million that was hidden in two vehicles on March 9, 2009. Agents were conducting surveillance at a Kansas City residence that day when they observed conspirators hiding what they learned were bundles of cash inside the door panels of a Jeep Cherokee. The Jeep was stopped by a trooper with the Missouri State Highway Patrol while traveling through Cass County, MO. During a search of the Jeep and a Nissan that was being towed, the trooper recovered 163 bundles of cash. Among several other cash seizures, officers seized nearly $654,000 in a traffic stop on May 9, 2009, and more than $50,000 from another vehicle on May19, 2009, all of which was proceeds from the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City deliberated for close to eight hours before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey, ending a trial that began Monday, June 27, 2011.
Under federal statutes, Jones and Jefferson are each subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to life in federal prison without parole. Villa is subject to up to five to years of imprisonment for bulk cash smuggling. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph M. Marquez and Patrick D. Daly. It was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.