FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY - JULY 2, 2008
RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court yesterday United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced RAJESH GHELABHAI PATEL, 36, of Maxton, North Carolina, to 10 years’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release following his confinement.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on February 20, 2008.On April 29, 2008, PATEL pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana. On November 27, 2006, a Fayetteville Police officer, assigned to parcel interdiction at a United Parcel Service office, noticed a suspicious box that had originated from El Paso, Texas and was addressed to a Fayetteville residence. After a police canine, trained to assist with narcotic investigations, alerted on the parcel, a search warrant was obtained and executed. Officers found 14.7 kilograms of marijuana in the box. A controlled delivery was made, officers placed the parcel on the porch of the residence. Shortly thereafter, PATEL arrived, taking the package into the residence with him. A search warrant of the property was executed and an additional 14.7 kilograms of marijuana were found in a second package that had been retrieved by PATEL. On April 2, 2007, a co-defendant reported that PATEL had delivered 400 kilograms of cocaine to the co-defendant. On April 23, 2007, a controlled purchase was arranged. Officers initiated a traffic stop of PATEL as he was en route to the drug deal. PATEL’s vehicle was searched and officers found 22.9 kilograms of cocaine.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCEDTF) investigation entitled Dragstrip, in which PATEL assisted in the operation of a large drug organization that has distributed more than 5,000 kilograms-more than 10,000 pounds–of cocaine in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Mr. Holding commented, “In recent years, the OCDETF program has re-focused on national organizations. This case shows how this strategy is working to break up these drug distribution networks that are poisoning our North Carolina communities.”
Investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Raleigh, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Charlston, the Federal Bureau of Investigation-South Carolina, Drug Enforcement Administration-South Carolina, HITDA-Houston, Texas, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes served as prosecutor for the government.
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