Jury Convicts Guatemalan National of Drug-trafficking Conspiracy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Guatemalan national has been convicted by a federal trial jury of his role in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine in the Kansas City, Mo., area.
Ismael Aldana Moralez, 41, a citizen of Guatemala residing in Kansas City, was found guilty on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, of participating in a conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine from January 2008 to Oct. 31, 2012.
In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, the jury also convicted Moralez of 11 counts of distributing cocaine, one count of being an illegal alien in possession of ammunition, one count of illegally entering the United States and one count of using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine.
Five co-defendants have pleaded guilty. Jose Octavio Franco Ortega, 39, and Alfredo Jesus Chavez Portillo, also known as “Martin,” 47, both citizens of Mexico; Agustin AJ Ixcoy, also known as “Chino,” 40, a citizen of Guatemala residing in Independence, Mo.; and Ronny Mazariegos, 41, a citizen of El Salvador, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Ixcoy and Mazariegos also pleaded guilty to money laundering and must forfeit $25,000 to the government. Emilio Estrada Rodriguez, 60, a citizen of Mexico residing in Sedalia, Mo., was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.
Evidence introduced during the trial indicated that investigators utilized undercover officers and cooperating sources to conduct controlled drug buys, as well as various means of surveillance. During the trial, the jury heard testimony that Moralez supplied ounce quantities of cocaine to conspirators Mazariegos and Ixcoy, who in turn distributed to others in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., deliberated for about 90 minutes before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays, ending a trial that began Monday, June 16, 2014.
Under federal statutes, Moralez is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 40 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rudolph R. Rhodes, IV, and Brent Venneman. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).