Tuesday, December 18, 2012

California man pleads guilty in $3 Million drug case

U.S. Department of Justice

A California man has pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than $3 million worth of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana in Kansas, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Esteban Magallon-Maldanado, 33, Sun City, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

In his plea, Magallon-Maldanado admitted that in 2008 and 2009 he was part of a drug trafficking operation that was based in California with a distribution center in Kansas.

The traffickers used couriers to transport drugs to Kansas and Missouri. They registered vehicles and stash houses in accomplices' names in hopes of protecting themselves from law enforcement.

In his plea, Magallon-Maldanado admitted:
  • In July 2008, couriers drove a Ford F150 owned by Magallon-Maldanado from California to Kansas with a load of 3 kilograms of cocaine concealed in a hidden compartment.
  • In November 2008, Magallon-Maldanado supplied 80 pounds of marijuana to a courier. The traffickers hid part of the marijuana in the speaker area of a Toyata Tundra and loaded the rest in the trunk of a rental car. Maldanado and two other men followed the two load vehicles from California to Kansas before returning to California with payment for the drugs.
  • In January 2009 Magallon-Maldanado contributed to purchase a Honda Ridgeline. He paid to have an electronic release installed in the rear trunk area of the Ridgeline to conceal drugs and cash. Traffickers loaded 100 pounds of marijuana into the Ridgeline and drove it from California to Kansas. Magallon-Maldanado followed the load vehicle from California to Kansas.
  • In the latter part of January 2009 Magallon-Maldanado helped load 6 kilograms of cocaine and 5 pounds of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment in a Ford F150 owned by Maldanado. The load was driven from California to Overland Park, Kan. On Feb. 21, 2009, Magallon-Maldanado and another man traveled from California to Kansas to pick up the Ford F150.
  • In March 2009 investigators intercepted various calls in which Maldanado was involved in discussions about installing secret compartments in autos, planning the transportation of methamphetamine from California to Kansas and purchasing a handgun for another trafficker.
  • In April 2009 Magallon-Maldanado helped load 112 pounds of marijuana and 4 kilograms of cocaine into transport vehicles.
  • In August 2009 investigators intercepted a call in which Magallon-Maldanado discussed the details of transporting 7 kilograms of cocaine to Kansas.
Sentencing is set for March 25. He faces a penalty of not less than 10 years and not more than life and a fine up to $4 million. Grissom commended the Drug Enforcement Administration and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken for their work on the case.