Jury Convicts Florida Man Who Tampered With Witnesses While Pending Trial With Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering, Obstruction Of Justice, Suborning Perjury, And Contempt Of Court
Tampa, FL – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that a federal jury has found Javier Monserrate Vazquez (46, Wesley Chapel) guilty of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy against the United States, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, suborning perjury, and contempt. He faces a maximum sentence of 100 years’ imprisonment. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 11, 2024.
Monserrate Vazquez was indicted on December 12, 2018. On April 20, 2021, he was arrested again while on pretrial release and awaiting trial for witness tampering and was subsequently detained.
According to evidence presented at trial, Monserrate Vazquez was a supplier of cocaine in Pasco County. The drugs were received through the mail from Puerto Rico. Coconspirators would receive the packages for further distribution. In October 2018, agents discovered a package containing two kilograms of cocaine addressed to one of Monserrate Vazquez’s coconspirators. In a controlled delivery, a third coconspirator picked up the package and a search of his cellphone showed that Monserrate Vazquez had coordinated the pickup. In June 2018, Monserrate Vazquez also delivered more than $171,000 in cash to an undercover agent for the purpose of laundering the funds to Colombia through the Black Market Peso Exchange.
In the summer of 2018, agents obtained recordings of Monserrate Vazquez threatening to kill an associate over an unpaid drug debt. The threats included claims that Monserrate Vazquez would burn the associate alive, cut off his head, and chop off his hands. In the spring of 2020, Monserrate Vazquez induced two people – including the person he threatened to kill – to sign affidavits claiming that Monserrate Vazquez had no involvement in drug trafficking. One of these affidavits was then relied on in court filings to exclude evidence and accuse the agents of misconduct. Monserrate Vazquez kept in contact with potential witnesses against him through an encrypted phone application and a contraband cellphone, as well as aided a witness in leaving Tampa while trial was pending to avoid a subpoena to testify. He also paid as much as $10,000 for the attorney of his codefendant in exchange for his silence.
This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Tampa Police Department and the Largo Police Department. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Baeza and Diego Novaes.