Leader Of Plant City Money Laundering And Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced
Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich has sentenced Saul Velazquez-Bazan (49, Plant City) to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, and money laundering. The Court also ordered him to forfeit real property that was involved in the offenses and entered a money judgment in the amount of $3.823 million, the proceeds of the drug trafficking.
Velazquez-Bazan pleaded guilty on February 1, 2017.
According to court documents, Velazquez-Bazan was the leader of the Plant City arm of a Matamoros, Mexico-based money laundering and drug trafficking organization. He and his associates used his business, SAME Pallets Company, to receive, store, and distribute cocaine and collect proceeds from the sale of cocaine. From at least January 2016, through his arrest in August 2016, Velazquez-Bazan was supplying local drug distributors with between 20 and 50 kilograms of cocaine per month, and transporting millions of dollars in drug proceeds to Mexico. During the investigation, law enforcement seized cocaine, methamphetamine, and over $775,000 in drug proceeds from members of Velazquez-Bazan’s organization.
“Thanks to Homeland Security Investigation’s strong partnership with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, we’ve helped stem the flow of illegal drugs into our local communities,” said Ivan J. Arvelo, acting special agent in charge of HSI Tampa.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Josephine W. Thomas.