Reginald “Reggie” Mack of Columbia, South Carolina recently pled guilty to two conspiracy counts in relation to a drug distribution scheme.
Mack pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, as well as one count of conspiracy to launder drug proceeds. The plea agreement indicates that he conspired with others in the Columbia area to arrange the distribution of a large amount of cocaine and conceal the drug profits that the scheme would reap.
It is important to note that conspiracy is an inchoate crime; that is, there is no requirement that the planned crime be carried out successfully in order for a defendant to be convicted of conspiring with others to commit the crime. In this way it is much like attempted murder – a defendant can be convicted of attempted murder although his murder attempt was unsuccessful and his victim survived.
Unlike attempted murder, however, a conspiracy count does not merge with the completed crime. In other words, a defendant can be convicted on charges of both conspiracy to distribute cocaine, along with charges of distributing cocaine.
This would have likely been the situation Mack would have faced had his scheme been carried out to completion. Upon pleading guilty to the two conspiracy counts, Mack was sentenced to 180 months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $200 special assessment, which is common in criminal narcotics prosecutions.
In other narcotics-related crime news, the head of a kingpin drug cartel family, Miguel Ruiz-Bravo of Apatzingan, Mexico, was recently convicted and sentenced. He pled guilty to controlling an active methamphetamine distribution business in Sacramento from his Mexico home.
The authorities seized 18 pounds of methamphetamine from the home of Ruiz-Bravo’s nephew.
While awaiting trial on that charge, he was arrested along with five others authorities and charged with possession of around 80 pounds of methamphetamine, a count he also pled guilty to.
Upon being convicted by the California state, he was sentenced to 17 years. He was then transferred to federal custody for prosecution, where he was sentenced to 280 months for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. It is not uncommon for an individual to be prosecuted under both state and federal law, especially when the underlying offense involves crossing international borders.
Brittany Krambeck of Fort Worth, Texas recently pled guilty to structuring transactions to avoid reporting requirements in relation to her father’s methamphetamine distribution business. As early as 2008 she became a distributor of methamphetamine for her father, and lived in North Richland Hills, Texas in a house used for the sale and distribution of the drug.
The following year her father decided he wanted to buy a house in Grand Prairie, Texas, and wanted to use the proceeds from his distribution business to make the purchase. Since such a large purchase could potentially attract the attention of investigators, he created a limited liability company called Hammer Time Custom Remodeling (HTCR), a guise which he planned to use to purchase the house. He recruited his daughter to assist with the purchase. Ms. Krambeck got the drug profits from her father and distributed them to members of the drug trafficking organization and to trusted family members. She then instructed them to buy cashier’s checks for amounts under the $10,000 threshold and deposit them into the HTCR account, so the required reports would not be filed by the bank.
When her father pulled out over $69,000 to pay the title company, she executed all the documents closing the account. By directing the deposits of the funds in such deliberate way so as to avoid the reporting requirements, she exposed herself to criminal liability under the structuring statute. Upon conviction, she was sentenced to 220 months in federal prison.
Shawn Nunes of Las Vegas, Nevada was recently convicted after pleading guilty to one count of money laundering. Nunes was a drug dealer in Las Vegas who dealt primarily in the ecstasy trade. An investigation uncovered that he received $2000 in exchange for distributing 500 ecstasy pills around the area.
The investigation also revealed that he had previously received $200 that he knew to be illegal drug profits. He was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $3000 fine and made to forfeit $2200. The $2200 figure is derived from the $2000 and $200 he was paid in connection to the drug distribution scheme. As we’ve mentioned, the asset forfeiture statutes are a powerful prosecutorial weapon and can be employed to seize any profits made by a defendant in connection to an illegal scheme such as drug distribution.
A woman who shot a police officer during the execution of a search warrant was recently convicted on multiple counts. Marisela Villa of Waco, Texas pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute over 500 grams of methamphetamine and over 5 kilos of cocaine. She also pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, as well as one count of possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
The plea agreement indicates that she conspired with five others to distribute over 500 pounds of methamphetamine and over 80 kilos of cocaine in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
Villa was sentenced to 705 months in federal prison.
Dae Won Lee of Columbus, OH pled guilty to one count of structuring currency transactions to evade reporting requirements and to one count of conspiracy to distribute over 1000 kilograms of marijuana.
Lee pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute over 1000 kilograms of marijuana. The plea agreement indicates that she planned with others to distribute the large quantity of marijuana in the Columbus area, and to get the proceeds of the scheme safely into a bank account without triggering the reporting requirements.
To accomplish this, Lee deposited over $100,000 in amounts of less than $10,000 to avoid the filing of currency transaction reports by the bank. Upon conviction, Lee was sentenced to 72 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay a $200 special assessment.