Houston Residents Convicted of Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine
|Oct. 13, 2011|
HOUSTON - Michael Washington, 37, and Juan Manzanares, 40, both of Houston, have been convicted by a jury's verdict of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The verdict was returned on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, after an hour of deliberation.
During the four-day trial, the jury heard testimony which proved that on June 10 and 11, 2010, Manzanares supplied cocaine to co-defendants Roberto Medrano, 46, and Alberto Aguirre, 30, both of Houston, who subsequently sold the cocaine to Washington. After receiving one kilogram on June 10, 2010, Washington agreed to purchase an additional five kilograms of cocaine for $125,000 the following day.
On June 11, 2010, Manzanares, providing the cocaine, rode with Medrano and Aguirre in a Chevy truck to Washington's residence on the 9600 block of Kings Valley in Houston to deliver the five kilograms of cocaine. Unbeknownst to all involved, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents had received information about a drug transaction to occur that day and were monitoring the drug transaction from various surveillance vantage points.
Aguirre exited the vehicle and entered the residence where surveillance units had established a visual. Inside the residence, Washington received the cocaine from Aguirre and paid him approximately $113,000 in exchange for the cocaine. Aguirre came out of the residence carrying a black bag and placed the bag into the rear passenger seat of the Chevy truck. The Truck subsequently departed from the residence. Derrick Vargas, 30, of Houston, another co-defendant, left the residence carrying a Huggies diaper box and walked to a white Explorer parked behind him, placing the diaper box into the back seat passenger area. Vargas then walked to a Toyota Camry and entered the driver's side seat and departed in tandem with the white Explorer. Surveillance then followed all three vehicles.
Officials conducted a traffic stop on the Chevy truck in which Manzanares was a passenger and observed a black bag in the back seat with bundles of U.S. currency exposed. The amount of U.S. currency recovered from the black bag was approximately $113,899. Officials approached the driver of the Ford Explorer and recovered the Huggies diaper box which contained five brick shaped objects containing a white powdery substance that field tested positive for cocaine. Inside the five packages was 4.9 kilograms of the schedule II controlled substance - cocaine.
United States District Judge Gray Miller, who presided over the trial, has scheduled sentencing for both Washington and Manzanares for Jan. 13, 2012, at which time they face 5-40 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2 million. Washington has been in custody since April 27, 2011, where he will remain pending the sentencing hearing. Manzanares, who was previously released on bond, was remanded to custody following the verdicts.
Vargas, Medrano and Aguirre pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine in advance of trial. Medrano and Aguirre and are set for sentencing on Jan. 6, 2012. Vargas is set for sentencing on Dec. 16, 2011. Medrano was previously released on bond where he was permitted to remain pending his sentencing, while Vargas and Aguirre have remained in federal custody.
This matter was investigated by the DEA in conjunction with the Pasadena Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stuart A. Burns and Bertram Isaacs.