A judge in Virginia sentenced a 39-year-old man to 10 years in a federal prison on May 7 for conspiring to distribute and possessing with the intention of distributing more than five kilograms of cocaine. The man's sentencing hearing came after a jury found him guilty of the narcotics charges. He was taken into custody in July 2018 by officers from the Norfolk Police Department working with Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration agents.
According to a Justice Department press release, the case was investigated as part of Operation Goodfellas, which was a multi-state narcotics probe conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. One of the operation's targets was a drug trafficking operation based in California and Mexico that made two large cocaine shipments to Norfolk in June and July of 2018. Court documents reveal that the man was observed by officers and agents retrieving drugs and cash on two occasions.
The jury was told during the man's trial that the drugs were disguised as hot-air balloon supplies and transported by truck to a storage facility in Virginia Beach. The man and an unidentified number of co-defendants were taken into custody at a nearby hotel after retrieving the drugs. Eight kilograms of cocaine and a large sum of currency were found in the hotel room.
Law enforcement operations involving multiple agencies do not generally order arrests unless there is solid evidence, and U.S. attorneys rarely go to trial if their cases are not compelling. When their clients are taken into custody on felony drug charges during such operations, experienced criminal defense attorneys may suggest avoiding the courtroom and negotiating a plea agreement instead.
Source: WTKR, "Mexican man supplied Hampton Roads cocaine. Now he'll spend 10 years in prison", Nick Boykin, May 9, 2019