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Press Release

Missouri Man Pleads Guilty to Interstate Marijuana Shipment

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — David Agustus McGowan, 63, of Kansas City, Missouri, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana that was shipped from Fresno to Kansas City, Missouri, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, in November 2018, McGowan’s co-defendants Patrick Maldonado, 47, of Madera; Elias Zambrano Jr., 43, of Fresno; Tan Minh Vo, 50, of San Jose; Tien Van Phan, 58, of Milpitas; and Halen Frazier, 37, of Kingsville, Missouri, coordinated the shipment of nearly 500 pounds of marijuana to Frazier in Kansas City. The first shipment was seized from Frazier during a traffic stop after Phan delivered 92 pounds of marijuana to him in two suitcases at a hotel in Kansas City.

Later, agents intercepted calls between Maldonado, Zambrano, and Frazier in which they discussed the shipment of another load of marijuana to Frazier in Kansas City. That load was intercepted by Arizona troopers after stopping McGowan for a broken taillight on his truck. During a search of the trailer, troopers found in a hidden compartment 384 pounds of marijuana and $1,629 in cash.

McGowan’s co-defendants previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced as follows:

  • Maldonado, who also conspired to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, was sentenced to seven years in custody.
  • Zambrano and Frazier were sentenced to two years and three months in prison.
  • Vo was sentenced to three years and one month in prison.
  • Phan was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force consisting of agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tulare, Kings, and Fresno County Sheriff’s Offices, and the Fresno Police Department. The Arizona Department of Health and the Kansas City Police Department assisted in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.

McGowan is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 4, 2023, by U.S. District Judge Ana de Alba. McGowan faces a minimum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years in prison, along with a $5 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Updated August 21, 2023

Drug Trafficking