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Press Release

Sun Valley, California Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Possession of Six Kilograms of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Defendant Received Large Quantities of Cocaine Shipped to him Hidden in Record Players

Baltimore, Maryland – Pedro Avalos, age 33, of Sun Valley, California, pleaded guilty today to attempted possession with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of a substance containing cocaine.    

The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; and Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal Awad.

According to his guilty plea, on February 19, 2020 an officer from the Maryland State Police Parcel Interdiction Initiative working at a mail shipping facility observed a parcel that displayed characteristics of a drug-laden parcel.  The parcel was scanned by a narcotics detection K-9, which made a positive alert for controlled substances.  Avalos was listed as the recipient.

Investigators searched the parcel pursuant to a search warrant and discovered that the parcel contained a record player.  After the record player was dismantled, investigators discovered two rectangular shaped bricks wrapped in plastic and heat-sealed bags.  One of the bricks revealed a white powdery substance which later tested positive for cocaine.  Subsequent lab analysis confirmed that each brick was positive for cocaine.  

Later that day, investigators arranged for a controlled delivery of the parcel.  Prior to the controlled delivery, investigators removed and replaced the original two kilograms of cocaine with “sham” cocaine, leaving one ounce of real cocaine from one of the original bricks.  An undercover officer posing as a delivery employee approached Avalos’s listed Baltimore delivery address.  The residence was a rented property Avalos secured under a fictitious name.  Avalos answered the door and accepted the parcel from the undercover officer. Avalos took possession of the parcel and returned into the residence.  A few minutes later, Avalos exited the residence and officers placed him under arrest.

During a search of Avalos’s residence, a mail delivery employee approached the residence with a second parcel for delivery. The second parcel listed Avalos as the sender of the parcel and the owner of the residence as the recipient.  A narcotics detection K-9 scanned the parcel and made a positive alert for the odor of controlled dangerous substances.  The second parcel was searched pursuant to a search warrant.  Like the first parcel, the second parcel contained two bricks of cocaine weighing approximately two kilograms hidden inside a record player.  Subsequent lab analysis confirmed that each brick was positive for cocaine.

The next day, on February 20, 2020, the owner of the residence called investigators to report that delivery of a third parcel addressed to Avalos was attempted at the residence.  Investigators recovered the third parcel and searched it pursuant to a search warrant.  Like the first two parcels, the third parcel contained a record player with two kilograms of cocaine hidden inside. 

In total, investigators recovered approximately six kilograms of cocaine from the three parcels. Avalos admitted he knowingly and intentionally attempted to possess the cocaine with the intent to distribute.

Avalos faces a maximum of life in prison followed by a mandatory minimum of five years of supervised release for attempted possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.   U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has not scheduled a sentencing hearing at this time.

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the DEA, the Maryland State Police, Baltimore Police Department, and the Anne Arundel County Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Anatoly Smolkin who is prosecuting the case.

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated June 15, 2021

Drug Trafficking