Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus sentenced Jose Joaquin Morales, age 37, of Baltimore, Maryland, today to 262 months in prison followed by six years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute heroin and marijuana while he was in prison. Judge Titus enhanced Morales’ sentence upon finding that Morales was a career offender, that he threatened his co-defendant, and that he used his minor child to help conceal the heroin smuggling. Judge Titus also ordered the sentence imposed today be consecutive to the 262 month federal sentence Morales is currently serving.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; and Colonel Michael Kundrat, Chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.
“This investigation by DEA utilized a myriad of investigative techniques in order to expose Morales' ways of smuggling drugs into prison. This case illustrates DEA's mission to take down drug traffickers anywhere, even in prison,” stated Gary Tuggle, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office. “As a repeat offender Morales will now grow very old in prison,” added Tuggle.
According to court documents and statements in court, Morales was sentenced in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas to 262 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. The federal Bureau of Prisons transferred Morales to the U.S. Penitentiary in Canaan, Pennsylvania to serve his sentence. Morales admitted that he was part of two conspiracies – one to bring heroin into the prison, and a second to continue to direct his marijuana trafficking outside the prison using his contacts in Maryland and Texas.
Morales enlisted the help of female family members or women with whom he’d had a romantic relationship to assist in the drug distribution. Morales contacted the women, providing them with a contact from whom they could obtain the heroin. He described to each woman how to package the heroin in balloons and that when the woman arrived at the prison, they would exchange the heroin by kissing, transferring the heroin from the woman’s mouth to Morales’.
For example, beginning in April 2010, Morales called co-defendant Terry Sadler to arrange for her to transport heroin into the prison facility. Sadler had a long time romantic relationship with Morales and they had a child together. Morales provided Sadler with a drug contact in Baltimore from whom Sadler could obtain heroin. After obtaining the heroin, Sadler visited Morales in prison and distributed the heroin to him by kissing him and transferring the heroin packages from her mouth to his. In September 2010, Morales and Sadler discussed bringing in a second package of heroin and Morales put Sadler in touch with his contacts in Baltimore to obtain heroin. Later, Morales told Sadler to bring their child when she came to visit him on September 24th, because it would be less likely for prison personnel to question the visit. On September 23, 2010, DEA agents executed a search warrant at Sadler’s home and recovered the heroin that Sadler had obtained for Morales, as well as balloons that Morales had told Sadler to use to package the heroin.
Morales directed another woman to have telephone conversations with his marijuana source, who was located in Texas. Morales intended for the marijuana to be mailed from Texas to Maryland. In fact, the DEA intercepted a package that had been mailed from Texas to Maryland, and was found to contain over five pounds of marijuana. During a meeting on September 17, 2010, Morales was overheard by law enforcement discussing the marijuana conspiracy with this woman and requesting that the woman also smuggle heroin into the prison like Terry Sadler was doing.
Terry Sadler, age 37, of Hanover, Maryland, pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Morales is also charged in a separate case with using a phone in the commission of a murder for hire and is scheduled to go to trial on that charge on September 24, 2013.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the DEA and Maryland Transportation Authority Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson and Martin J. Clarke, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.