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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Thursday, December 19, 2013

California Women And Florida Man Sentenced For Conspiracy To Body-Smuggling Drugs To Tampa

Tampa, FL – Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore this week sentenced Vanessa Cooper (39, El Cajon, California), Canetha Johnson (43, El Cajon, California), and Raul Carbajal (23, Plant City, Florida) to 17, 14 and 15 years in federal prison, respectively, for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. 

Cooper and Johnson were found guilty by a federal jury on September 23, 2013.  Carbajal pleaded guilty on September 13, 2013.

According to the evidence and testimony presented at trial, on or about April 1, 2013, Cooper and Johnson, along with co-defendant Selena Blanchard, departed from an airport in San Diego, California, ultimately destined for Tampa, Florida. The purpose of the trip was to deliver approximately two pounds of high-purity methamphetamine to Carbajal. In order to get the drugs through airport security, without detection, each individual smuggled a package inside of her body.  The three women arrived in Tampa on April 2, 2013, where they were met by Carbajal. All three women then delivered the packages of methamphetamine to Carbajal. In the same manner, Cooper and Blanchard had delivered methamphetamine from California to Carbajal, in Tampa, on several prior occasions. 
Blanchard was found guilty, following a jury trial, on September 23, 2013. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

This case was investigated by special agents and local task force agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Jackson.

Updated January 26, 2015