Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Distribution
Orlando, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that Norberto Villegas (37, Waslaco,Texas) pled guilty yesterday to possession with intent to distribute over 100 kilograms of marijuana. Villegas faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison because of his criminal record and the amount of marijuana involved in the case. Villegas and two others were indicted by a grand jury on February 22, 2012.
According to court documents, on January 26, 2012, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation into the cultivation and harvesting of marijuana plants inside residences (marijuana grow houses) led agents to a residence on Fort Christmas Road in east Orange County. As DEA agents approached the residence they observed Villegas in the back seat of a rental pick-up truck, holding several bundles of U.S. currency - totaling $45,002. Villegas was attempting to conceal the bundles in the back of the driver's seat, which was partially dismantled. He told the agents that the money was to buy goods and clothes at a discount warehouse in Florida, which he would sell in Texas.
Agents obtained consent to search the residence from the lessee and co-defendant, Edwin Melendez-Negron. During the search, agents found torn pieces of paper in the toilet bowl of the master bathroom. These pieces of paper were torn from a drug ledger that belonged to Melendez. One entry found on the torn pieces of paper was an entry for “Tio” in the amount “45,665.” “Tio” is a nickname for Villegas. Another ledger entry included the amount “222.8.”
In the garage agents also found a garbage bag that contained 33 empty wrappings that had contained 33 marijuana bricks weighing approximately 3 kilograms each.
According to court documents, approximately two weeks prior, Villegas delivered 33 bricks of marijuana to the residence on Fort Christmas Road. Villegas and co-defendants Melendez, and Carlos Guzman-Franco unwrapped the bricks in the garage and weighed them without the wrappings. They re-wrapped the marijuana in different sizes and weights. The net total weight of the marijuana was 222.8 pounds, or 101.6 kilograms. Villegas sold approximately 90 pounds of the marijuana to Melendez and Guzman for $500 per pound, approximately $45,000, and kept the remainder. The $45,002 that Villegas was trying to hide in his rental truck was the proceeds from the transaction.
Edwin Melendez-Negron and Carlos Guzman-Franco are scheduled for trial in May 2012.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Orlando Field Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce S. Ambrose.