Foreign National Pleads Guilty
A man who was indicted along with twenty-five other individuals and charged with being a member of a large cocaine distribution organization, has pled guilty in federal district court in East St. Louis, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Florentino Cruz-Amado, also known as Damian Amado-Serapio, 24, a citizen of Mexico, who is currently in the United States illegally, entered pleas of guilty on November 1, 2011, to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine, one count of Illegal Entry into the United States after Deportation, and one count of Possession with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine. Cruz-Amado also admitted the forfeiture allegation contained in the indictment and agreed to forfeit his interest in $210,000 to the United States. In addition, Cruz- Amado agreed to the entry of a Judicial Order of Removal at the time of his sentencing, which will require him to be deported from the United States following his release from prison.
Cruz-Amado is currently scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on February 29, 2012. He faces a minimum sentence of ten years in prison to a possible maximum penalty of life in prison, a fine of not more than $14.25 million, and a term of supervised release of at least 5 years. Each count also carries a mandatory special assessment of $100.
Ten co-conspirators have also entered pleas of guilty in this case and are awaiting sentencing. Other individuals who were charged in the same indictment have pled not guilty and are currently awaiting trial. Those who have pled not guilty 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), the 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.