Third Conspirator In Attempted $600,000 Cocaine Purchase Sentenced To 19 Years In Federal Prison
Orlando, Florida – U.S. District Judge Wendy W. Berger has sentenced Derek Morales-Figueroa (26, Orlando) to 19 years and 7 months years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Morales-Figueroa had pleaded guilty on May 10, 2022.
According to the plea agreement and other court documents, beginning on September 11, 2020, Morales-Figueroa and a co-conspirator, Jacob Luis Bonilla-Rivera, engaged in a series of phone calls with individuals they believed to be cocaine dealers but who were, in fact, undercover agents working on behalf of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). These discussions culminated in an agreement to purchase 20 kilograms of cocaine in Orlando. On September 16, 2020, HSI agents met with Bonilla-Rivera and Juan Omar Rodriguez, Jr. (21, Auburndale, Florida, where the conspirators showed HSI agents the $600,000 in cash they had brought to the deal in a hidden compartment in one of their vehicles. After doing so, Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez proceeded to a location where HSI agents had arranged to show them the 20 kilograms of cocaine to be purchased. Morales-Figueroa participated in inspecting the cocaine by video conferencing on one of the conspirator’s phones. After inspecting the cocaine, Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez returned to their car to retrieve the cash from the hidden compartment when they were arrested. Upon searching both vehicles, HSI agents found that both Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez had loaded firearms in their possession in the vehicles they had driven to the meeting, along with a total of $639,325 cash.
On September 17, 2020, Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez were charged for their roles in the conspiracy. Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possessing firearms in furtherance of that offense, and on March 12, 2021, each defendant was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
Morales-Figueroa was not located at the time of the initial arrest. On March 10, 2021, Morales-Figueroa was identified in a traffic stop in Flagler County on Interstate-95. During the traffic stop, Morales-Figueroa was asked to get out of the vehicle and, instead, got out of the passenger’s seat and into the driver’s seat of the vehicle and fled from officers with an uninvolved minor in the back seat of the vehicle. On January 3, 2022, Morales-Figueroa was arrested at a Jacksonville residence in connection with a search of that residence and the seizure of nine kilograms of cocaine and significant quantities of U.S. currency.
“This investigation was based on the due diligence of hard working HSI special agents and task force officers who ultimately brought to justice these international narcotics traffickers," said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Orlando Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Pezzutti. "Our agency, along with our partners, work tirelessly to bring to justice those who attempt to poison our communities."
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from the Seminole County Sherriff’s Office, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dana E. Hill.