Two Foreign Nationals Plead Guilty
Two men who were indicted along with twenty-four other individuals and charged with being a members of a large cocaine distribution organization, have pled guilty, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Francisco Perez, 28, a citizen of Mexico, who admitted he is currently in the United States illegally, entered a plea of guilty on December 8, 2011, to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine. Perez also admitted the forfeiture allegation contained in the indictment and agreed to forfeit his interest in $136,920, which represents the value of the cocaine he distributed or intended to distribute for the drug trafficking organization, to the United States.
Edwin Fernando-Montejo, also known as Edwin Fernando Montejo-Anzueto, Edwin Montejo-Fernando, and “Spyder,” 25, a citizen of Guatemala, who is also in the United States illegally, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine; Possession with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine; and Improper Entry by an Alien. Fernando- Montejo also admitted the forfeiture allegation contained in the indictment and agreed to forfeit his interest in $149,310 to the United States.
Fernando-Montejo agreed to the entry of a Judicial Order of Removal at the time he is sentenced, which will require him to be deported from the United States following his release from prison. Perez was advised in open court that the United States intends to seek a Judicial Order of Removal as to him at the time of sentencing.
Perez is currently scheduled to be sentenced at 1:00 p.m. on March 23, 2012, in United States District Court in East St. Louis. He faces a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment to a possible maximum penalty of imprisonment for life, a fine of not more than $10,000,000, and a term of supervised release of at least 5 years on the Conspiracy count. He will also be required to pay a mandatory special assessment of $100.
Fernando-Montejo is scheduled to be sentenced at 2:30 p.m. on March 23, 2012. The offenses to which he pled guilty carry possible penalties as follows: Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine carries a possible maximum sentence of a term of imprisonment from 10 years to life, a fine of not more than $10 million, a term of supervised release of at least 5 years, and a $100 special assessment; Possession with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine carries a possible maximum sentence of a term of imprisonment of twenty (20) years, a fine of not more than $1 million, a term of supervised release of at least 3 years, and a $100 special assessment; Improper Entry by an Alien carries a possible maximum sentence of a term of imprisonment of 6 months, a fine of not more than $5000, and a special assessment of $10.
Fifteen other co-conspirators have also entered pleas of guilty. Other individuals who were charged in the same indictment are currently awaiting trial, which is scheduled to begin on March 12, 2012. They are presumed to be innocent of all charges and are entitled to a fair trial at which the Government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Evidence in support of the indictment was obtained in an investigation which was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF initiative is designed to bring federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and resources together to identify, target and dismantle large national and international drug trafficking organizations. Participating agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Marshal Service, the Granite City Police Department, Fairmont City Police Department, Collinsville Police Department, Fairview Heights Police Department, Caseyville Police Department, Pontoon Beach Police Department, Park Hills (Missouri) Police Department, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, and the Illinois State Police. This case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Randy G. Massey.