Wisconsin Restaurant Owner Sentenced to Federal Prison for Cocaine Trafficking
MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- John G. McGarry, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-Wisconsin, and U.S. Attorney Richard G. Frohling of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced that on March 31, 2022, Luis A. Morales, 41, the former owner of Mr. Taco and Savor Food & Spirits, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for his involvement in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy.
According to court filings, Morales was the leader of a local drug trafficking organization that was responsible for distributing numerous kilograms of cocaine throughout the Fox Valley area from approximately 2014 until December 2020. Investigators learned that Morales commonly traveled to the Chicago area to obtain large amounts of cocaine. He also frequently traveled to Mexico and Colombia. The Mr. Taco Kimberly location was often used to distribute and accept payments for cocaine.
After a lengthy investigation, Morales was arrested during a traffic stop on Highway 41 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in December 2020. Two kilograms of cocaine were located in the back seat of his vehicle. After the traffic stop, investigators identified and searched the location of Morales’s source of supply in Chicago, where they located an additional 11 kilograms of cocaine and approximately $80,000 in cash.
Investigators then executed search warrants at various residences and all of Morales’s restaurants, where they located additional cocaine, cash, and firearms. The evidence further established that Morales had direct ties and confirmed contacts with Cartel Jalisco New Generation (“CJNG”), a violent Mexican cartel.
During the sentencing hearing, Senior U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach noted that by purchasing large quantities of cocaine from members and associates of CJNG, Morales financially supported a large criminal enterprise known for destroying other countries and communities. Judge Griesbach also emphasized that Morales was driven by greed and took advantage of other people’s addictions.
Morales’s incarceration will be followed by ten years of supervised release. Judge Griesbach also ordered a money judgment of forfeiture in the amount of $150,000 in addition to the approximately $145,000 already seized and forfeited.
The successful prosecution of this case was the result of a joint investigation by the DEA, the Lake Winnebago Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group—Drug Unit, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice—Department of Criminal Investigation. Several other law enforcement agencies assisted throughout this investigation, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Wisconsin National Guard Counterdrug Program, the Wisconsin State Patrol, and the Appleton Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Alexander E. Duros prosecuted the case.