Colorado Woman and Arizona Man Plead Guilty to Violating the Federal Controlled Substances Act
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JOANNA MANZANO, age 33, a resident of Colorado, and KABIEN CORTES, age 34, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, pled guilty on April 12, 2023 to superseding bills of information charging them each with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a quantity of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841 (b)(1)(C), and 846, announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.
According to court documents, on March 16, 2020 during a DEA investigation, a drug supplier arranged the delivery of methamphetamine to the New Orleans area. On March 19, 2020, the DEA determined that a driver (MANZANO) was travelling from Phoenix, Arizona to New Orleans with the methamphetamine and would need money for expenses. The DEA also determined that the methamphetamine was in liquid form and that another individual would arrive in New Orleans at a later date to convert the liquid methamphetamine into solid form.
The investigation disclosed that MANZANO, accompanied by CORTES, traveled to New Orleans. After MANZANO and CORTES arrived in Louisiana, law enforcement officers identified their vehicle and maintained surveillance on them until they arrived in Metairie. On March 20, 2020, at approximately 11:50 p.m., Louisiana State Troopers conducted a traffic stop of MANZANO and CORTES. After obtaining consent to search the vehicle, troopers noticed that the bed-liner of the truck had been removed and was being held in place by a rubber cord. A continued search of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of approximately 4,576 grams of liquid methamphetamine in the gas tank of the vehicle.
MANZANO and CORTES each face a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty (20) years, a fine of up to $1,000,000.00, a term of supervised release of at least three (3) years, and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Louisiana State Police. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney André Jones of the Narcotics Unit .
Shane M. Jones
Public Information Officer
United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana
United States Department of Justice
Updated April 14, 2023