Members Of Interstate Texas-Florida Drug Ring Plead Guilty
Jacksonville, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill, Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, and Baker County Sheriff Joey B. Dobson announce that six individuals involved in an interstate drug ring have pleaded guilty to drug charges. These guilty pleas represent the conclusion of a long-term investigation conducted by the Jacksonville DEA Task Force. Between April 2010 and April 2011, approximately 160 kilograms of cocaine was transported from Texas to Baker County, Florida, and distributed to individuals in Jacksonville, Florida. The conspiracy resulted in over $4 million in drug proceeds.
Carlos Cordero (65, Houston, Texas), Maria Christina Martinez (52, Houston, Texas), Rita Mukherjee (23, Houston, Texas), Steven Hoskins (39, Jacksonville), John Christopher Townsend (39, Baker County), and Edwin McDonald (54, Baker County) have each pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. Cordero, Townsend, and Hoskins, each of whom have prior federal drug convictions, face a mandatory minimum of 20 years up to life in federal prison. Martinez and McDonald each face a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to life in federal prison. Rita Mukherjee pled guilty to using a communications facility (a telephone) to facilitate the conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and faces up to 4 years in federal prison.
Three additional individuals have been charged with conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine as part of this investigation. Doyle Hardenbrook (44, Baker County) has a change of plea hearing scheduled for November 22, 2011. Andre James (29, Georgia) is currently being held on federal drug charges in Georgia, and will be brought to the Middle District of Florida to face the indictment in the near future. And, Alejandro Arreozola-Villareal (52, Dallas, Texas) remains a fugitive.
According to the plea agreements, in April 2010, Townsend became aware that Hoskins was interested in purchasing large quantities of cocaine. Townsend, through an associate, was introduced to Cordero and Martinez, who had a source of supply for cocaine in Mexico. The first transaction took place in June 2010 when Cordero and Martinez transported 8 kilograms of cocaine from Texas to Baker County. The cocaine was concealed inside the tires of the vehicle they were driving. The cocaine was then sold to local Jacksonville cocaine dealers. Between mid 2010 and April 2011, Townsend obtained cocaine approximately 10 times from Cordero and Martinez. Each subsequent transaction involved pproximately 16 kilograms of cocaine concealed inside vehicle tires, 4 kilograms in each tire. Townsend paid Cordero and Martinez approximately $400,000 for each load of 16 kilograms of cocaine.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of officers from law enforcement agencies in Jacksonville and surrounding counties. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie Hackenberry Savell.