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, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Jesus Garcia Chanocua, age 34, a citizen of Mexico, who is currently in the United States illegally entered pleas of guilty on January 18, 2012, to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine; Possession of a Firearm by a Previously Convicted Felon; Possession of a Firearm by a User of a Controlled Substance; and Possession of a Firearm by an Illegal Alien. Chanocua also admitted the forfeiture allegation contained in the indictment and agreed to forfeit firearms and ammunition seized from him by law enforcement on or about March 26, 2010, along with $273,000.00 to the United States. In addition, Chanocua agreed to the entry of a Judicial Order of Removal at the time of sentencing, which will require him to be deported from the United States following his release from prison.
Chanocua is currently scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on May 18, 2012, in United States District Court in East St. Louis. At that time, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment to a possible maximum penalty of imprisonment for life, a fine of not more than $10,750,000, and a term of supervised release of at least 5 years. Chanocua will also be required to pay a mandatory special assessment of $100 for each count.
Twenty-three co-conspirators have also entered pleas of guilty. Other individuals who were charged in the same indictment as Chanocua are currently awaiting trial, which is scheduled to begin in March 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.