broker for internationial meth precursor chemical trafficking pleads guilty
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Frank Moreno Jr., 43, of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty today to brokering the export of vast amounts of methamphetamine precursor chemicals from India to Mexico and Guatemala.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Derek Maltz, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s Special Operations Division, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.
“Combating meth abuse in the United States can’t stop at our borders,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “The vast majority of methamphetamine in the United States is manufactured and distributed by violent Mexican drug cartels, so we are focused on those who illegally traffic in the chemicals that support the deadly meth trade in Mexico and other countries.”
“I have seen how methamphetamine addiction destroys those who use it and devastates those around them, and Frank Moreno Jr. was responsible for illegally bringing tremendous quantities of chemicals needed to manufacture this dangerous drug into our country,” said SAC Maltz. “While today we have put an important global drug trafficker out of business and behind bars, this plea is but a small victory in our continuing fight against methamphetamine and those who facilitate its production. We must remain vigilant in enforcing our drug laws and bringing to justice those like Mr. Moreno who seek to harm us and threaten our society.”
Moreno today pled guilty to conspiring to broker an international pseudoephedrine transaction. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 11, 2011.
According to court documents, Moreno conspired with others to obtain large quantities of pseudoephedrine – a chemical used in cold medicines but also used to manufacture methamphetamine – from India for illegal export to Mexico and Guatemala. Domestically-produced methamphetamine has decreased significantly because of federal regulations on the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine, and now the overwhelming majority of methamphetamine used in the United States is manufactured in Mexico and illegally imported into the United States.
Moreno admitted in court that from the summer of 2008 to June 2009, he worked with an Indian supplier of pseudoephedrine, Syed Khawaja Moin of Faisal Enterprises, to broker the shipment of tens of millions of pseudoephedrine tablets to Mexico and Guatemala. In June 2009, law enforcement seized one of these shipments in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which contained 17.5 million tablets. Moreno also admitted that he helped broker payments from conspirators in Mexico to Moin in India as payment for the illegal shipments and to promote future transactions.
This case was investigated by DEA’s Special Operations Division. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Grooms and Special Assistant United States Attorney Scott Nussbum are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.