News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2010
Contact: Special Agent Ramona Sanchez
Public Information Officer
(602) 664-5725

Father / Son Marijuana Traffickers Sentenced To Lengthy Prison Terms

AUG 9 -- (Phoenix) - Robert Hernandez Betancourt, 28, and his father, Moses Monroy Betancourt, 48, both of Phoenix, were sentenced to prison on August 5, 2010 by Judge Susan R. Bolton for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.  Judge Bolton sentenced Robert Betancourt to 12 years, and sentenced his father to 10 years in federal prison for their crime.  

Both men pled guilty to conspiring with others to possess with the intent to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana between January 2003 and May 2009.  Robert Betancourt also agreed to a sentencing enhancement for possessing an AK-47 assault rifle, a Glock 26 nine-millimeter handgun, and a Glock 34 nine-millimeter handgun with an extended 30-round magazine, in furtherance of the drug conspiracy.  At sentencing, Judge Bolton found that both men were managers or supervisors of criminal activity involving five or more participants. 

According to investigators, Robert and Moses Betancourt, used the father’s produce business, Pinnacle Produce, and other Valley locations to distribute bulk quantities of marijuana to other conspirators, some of whom would utilize the U.S. Postal Service as well as ground transportation to deliver the marijuana.  Moses Betancourt would also, for a fee, allow other conspirators to use his produce warehouse, located at 1220 East Jackson Street in Phoenix, to load marijuana into semi-trucks for interstate transport, and would often sell them produce loads in which to hide the bales of marijuana. 

"Behind the guise of a family produce business, the Betancourt’s hid what was actually the hub of a drug trafficking network, and protected these illegal shipments with weapons," said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke.

Investigators also said that the family previously made Valley news in May 2007, when Maribel Hernandez Betancourt, the wife of Moses Betancourt and mother of Robert Betancourt, was kidnapped and held for ransom because of a drug debt owed by Robert Betancourt.  Although the police investigated the kidnapping, the family ultimately obtained Maribel Betancourt’s release without police involvement.

Two other family members, Pedro Aurelio Betancourt, 40, and Vicente S. Mendivil, both of Phoenix, and uncles of Robert Betancourt, were previously sentenced to five years in prison for their involvement in the conspiracy. 

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Mesa Police, Department, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Phoenix Police Department.  The prosecution was handled by Steven P. Logan, Jane E. McLaughlin, and James B. Morse Jr., Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

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