Six Panhandle Locals Sentenced to Federal Prison for Drug Conspiracy

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Tallahassee, Florida- July 27, 2012

Six panhandle men were sentenced to federal prison terms in Tallahassee today by United States District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, because of their convictions for a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana. Six co-defendants were sentenced at earlier dates.

Jose Misael Garfias-Garcia, 34, of Altha, Florida and Michoacan, Mexico was sentenced to 360 months in prison. As an illegal alien, he may be deported to Mexico. Evidence at his trial in April showed that he was the leader and organizer of a group responsible for more than 40 kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,600 kilograms of marijuana. While most of these drugs were seized at the Laredo, Texas border crossing in December 2010, some of the drugs were distributed in north Florida and south Alabama. The Court also found that Garfias possessed a firearm in furtherance of the conspiracy and that he threatened a cooperating witness.

Melchor Munoz, 37, of Marianna, Florida, was sentenced to 188 months in prison. Munoz, the owner of a restaurant in Marianna, was also found to be a leader of the drug organization.

Tony O’Neal, 51, of Chipley, Florida, was sentenced to 84 months in prison. He distributed marijuana and cocaine.

Jamie Jones, 29, of Montgomery, Alabama, was sentenced to 60 months in prison. This sentence will run concurrently with a 78-month sentence imposed in the Middle District of Alabama for related conduct. Jones was convicted at trial in the Alabama case, but pled guilty here. He was a marijuana distributor.

Robert Dante Jones, 34, of Marianna and Panama City, Florida, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. He was primarily a cocaine distributor.

Noe Vasquez, 42, of Montgomery, Alabama and Michoacan, Mexico was sentenced to the 14 months that he had served since his May 2011 arrest. Vasquez, an illegal alien, will be transferred to the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Agents seized 177 pounds of marijuana from Vasquez when he was arrested. He stored and distributed marijuana for the organization.

Miguel Angel Moreno-Ortega, 25, of Altha, Florida and Michoacan, Mexico, was sentenced on July 12, 2012 to 78 months in prison. Moreno-Ortega is subject to possible deportation. Moreno-Ortega lived with Garfias-Garcia, his uncle. These two defendants were convicted at a joint trial. He assisted in marijuana and cocaine distribution.

Five defendants were sentenced on May 10, 2012. Jose Luis Acosta-Patino, 57, of Grand Ridge, Florida and Michoacan, Mexico, was sentenced to 57 months in prison. He is subject to possible deportation. He transported drugs from suppliers in Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia to locations in North Florida and South Alabama. Xavier Pena-Cintron, 28, of Altha, Florida, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. He distributed marijuana and cocaine to other area drug dealers.

Torbin Neal Dykes, 29, of Blountstown, Florida, was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He was a lower level cocaine and marijuana distributor. Luis Barrantes, 56, of Costa Rica, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. He is subject to possible deportation. He stored marijuana and cocaine at a secluded mobile home in southwest Calhoun County. Lissette A. Pena, 31, of Altha, Florida, was sentenced to five years on probation with three months of home confinement. She assisted her husband, Xavier Pena-Cintron, in the distribution of marijuana and cocaine.

This investigation identified three additional persons who had illegally re-entered the United States after deportation. Eliazar Moreno-Ortega, 33, Jose Remedios Gutierrez-Esquivel, 36, and Carlos Torres-De La Fuente, 28, each pled guilty to illegal re-entry charges. In July 2011, these men were sentenced to time served and turned over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for deporatation.

These prosecutions resulted from a year-long investigation by a number of agencies. Drug seizures totaled 39.5 kilograms of cocaine and 1,380 kilograms of marijuana. Agents also seized three vehicles, several large screen televisions, three firearms, sets of false identity documents, and more than $80,000 in currency and bank accounts.

Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, credited the success of this investigation to the joint efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Agriculture, the Florida National Guard, the Sheriff’s Offices for Calhoun, Jackson, Liberty, and Leon Counties, and the Tallahassee Police Department. Ms. Marsh stated, “The cooperative efforts of these agents and agencies made this community a safer place.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael T. Simpson, who is the Senior Litigation Counsel for the Northern District of Florida.

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