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Man caught in Virginia narcotics sting operation sentenced

A federal judge in Virginia has sentenced a 37-year-old man to 10 years and six months in prison for organizing a plot to buy 100 kilograms of cocaine. The Dominican Republic national entered into a plea agreement with U.S. attorneys in February. The charges he faced carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life. A 24-year-old man was sentenced to six years and six months in federal prison for the role he played in the scheme.

The men were taken into custody during a sting operation mounted by the Virginia State Police in October 2018. They traveled to Fairfax County from New York City to complete a drug deal worth $2.5 million. According to U.S. attorneys, the men took precautions to avoid law enforcement that included using aliases, several untraceable cellphones and multiple vehicles to transport the drugs.

An undercover VSP special agent working with a confidential informant met the men in a Vienna hotel. The agent took the 37-year-old man to a Home Depot parking lot to collect the drugs. The confidential informant remained at the hotel with the 24-year-old man to count the money. The 37-year-old man was taken into custody at the parking lot and the 24-year-old man was apprehended at the hotel. When police searched the men's hotel room, they allegedly discovered $1.15 million.

This case reveals that federal prosecutors may be prepared to make sentencing offers in return for a guilty plea even when they seem to have overwhelming evidence. This is because arguing before a jury is never without risk. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may advise their clients to pursue a negotiated resolution when they face serious drug charges and the chances of prevailing in court are slim.

Source: U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, Leader of Multi-Million Dollar Narcotics Trafficking Conspiracy Pleads Guilty, Press release, Feb. 27, 2019

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