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Jan. 13, 2011

FINAL DEFENDANT SENTENCED FOR COCAINE TRAFFICKING SCHEME

(HOUSTON) – Edwin Quintanilla, 41, an El Salvadorian citizen and legal permanent resident of the U.S., has been was sentenced to 121 months in prison, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. U.S. District Judge David Hittner handed down the sentence against the final defendant charged in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy on Jan. 11, 2011.

Quintanilla and Ricardo Castillo, 46, a Colombian citizen and legal permanent resident of the U.S., were arrested on April 18, 2010, along with co-defendant Eduardo Villar, 40, a citizen of The Philippines. All defendants were charged on May 17, 2010, in a one-count Indictment alleging conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Villar subsequently pleaded guilty to the one-count indictment on Aug. 26, 2010, and testified against Castillo and Quintanilla. Castillo and Quintanilla were convicted of the charge in a jury trial before Judge Hittner on Aug. 27, 2010. Villar was sentenced on Nov. 19, 2010, to time served and has been deported back to The Philippines, while Castillo received a sentence of 151 months in federal prison on Nov. 29, 2010.

Villar was a crewman aboard a transport ship “Stolt Basutto” at sea when he approached the captain and told him a man known to him as “Calvo” brought 15 kilograms of cocaine aboard the ship while it was docked in Colombia. Calvo enlisted Villar to deliver it to someone named “Flaco” when the ship reached the Port of Houston. The ship subsequently contacted U.S. authorities. As a result, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) agents boarded the ship when it reached Galveston Bay and took custody of Villar and the cocaine. Villar cooperated after he was arrested and contacted the phone numbers he had been given. Several phone calls resulted in Quintanilla subsequently meeting Villar at a WalMart in Pasadena, at which time Quintanilla only had $7500. Villar immediately demanded $10,000 (the amount he had been promised) before he would turn over what Calvo had been given him. Quintanilla was then observed making phone calls, meeting with Castillo and then returning to meet again with Villar.  Quintanilla gave Villar a white sack containing $9800 and, in return, Villar gave Quintanilla a suitcase containing two backpacks which held the cocaine. At that time, both Quintanilla and Castillo were arrested. A cell phone recovered from Castillo was later confirmed to be the phone Villar contacted to arrange the delivery. 

The case was investigated by ICE, CBP the United States Coast Guard and the Pasadena Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Melvin Pechacek and Jennie Basile prosecuted the case.

 

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