FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
THURSDAY - May 1, 2008
FAYETTEVILLE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DRUG CHARGES
RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court RAJESH THELABHAI PATEL, 35, of Fayetteville, North Carolina pled guilty on April 29, 2008, before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on February 20, 2008.On April 23, 2007, under the supervision of law enforcement officers a controlled buy was arranged for the purchase of 30 kilograms of cocaine from PATEL. At the scheduled time and location, North Carolina Highway Patrol Officers conducted a stop of PATEL’s vehicle on Hwy 71 in Robeson County. PATEL was identified as the driver and only occupant in the car. After issuing a warning for a traffic violation, the trooper asked for and received consent from PATEL to search the car for drugs. In the trunk of the car, two nylon bags were found containing 23 kilograms of cocaine, which had a street value of over $2.9 million dollars.
During the course of this ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCEDTF) investigation, it was determined that PATEL was a member of a conspiracy to distribute hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana in the Eastern District of North Carolina with sources including South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, and Mexico.
Mr. Holding noted the importance of this case: “OCDETF investigations focus on the most serious drug traffickers within our district. In this case, the defendant, and the organization of which he was a part, was responsible for delivering and distributing large quantities of cocaine in the Eastern District of North Carolina. This type of case shows the value of OCDETF’s multi-agency focus on entire drug organizations.”
PATEL faces maximum penalties of up to life imprisonment, five years supervised release and a fine of up to $4,000,000.
Investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE), the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), the North Carolina Highway Patrol, and the Fayetteville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes served as prosecutor for the government.
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