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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Thursday, July 20, 2017

California Man Sentenced for Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A California man who participated in a large-scale cocaine trafficking conspiracy was sentenced today to 10 years in prison.

According to court documents, Daniel Rodriguez, 49, participated in the conspiracy with Marvin O’Neal Carter, Sr., 49, of Newport News, Michael Stephen Kuna, 42, of Canada, and his brother Hilario Rodriguez, 50, of California. Each man was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Carter was also charged with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and maintaining a drug involved premises. In addition to the conspiracy charge, Daniel and Hilario Rodriguez were charged with interstate travel in aid of racketeering.

According to court documents, agents observed the arrival of a tractor trailer at a garage leased by Carter. With the assistance of Michael Kuna, who stopped traffic and directed the driver, the trailer was off-loaded next to the garage. Agents observed Daniel and Hilario Rodriguez arrive and park in Carter’s garage parking lot. The men then worked together to unload cocaine from a hidden compartment located underneath the trailer. A short time later, Kuna left and returned with two large duffel bags which were taken underneath the trailer. Kuna left the location after loading the now-empty duffel bags into a vehicle. Law enforcement agents conducted a traffic stop on Kuna and located the two duffle bags which smelled of bulk currency.

According to court documents, as Kuna was being detained, agents executed two federal search warrants on the garage and trailer. During the search, approximately 54 kilograms of cocaine and 100 bundles of cash in $5,000 to $10,000 stacks, totaling nearly $1 million, were recovered. The search of the garage also led to the recovery of a firearm, a quantity of heroin and more cocaine, in addition to approximately $42,000 in cash from a safe.

The case was part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Operation Blown Piston.  The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Karl C. Colder, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division; Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; Richard W. Myers, Chief of Newport News Police; and Terry L. Sult, Chief of Hampton Police Division, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard J. Zlotnick and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy E. Cross prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:16-cr-76.

Drug Trafficking
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications
Updated July 21, 2017