OAKLAND – Antonio Avila was sentenced today to seven years and three months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Jeffrey S. White, U.S. District Judge.
Avila, 37, of Oakland, pleaded guilty on September 13, 2017. As part of this plea agreement, Avila admitted that on March 31, 2017, he delivered approximately two kilograms of cocaine to an undercover law enforcement officer as part of a previously arranged cocaine deal. Avila drove in a Honda Accord to a pre-arranged location with his co-defendant, Enrique Diaz Santiago, 42, of Oakland, sitting next to him in the front passenger’s seat of the car. Avila brought two kilograms of cocaine, which was stored inside a backpack in the backseat of the car. When Avila and Santiago arrived at the location for the deal, the undercover officer approached the defendants and asked them for the cocaine. Avila asked the undercover officer if he had the money. Shortly thereafter, law enforcement authorities arrested Avila and Santiago, and seized the two kilograms of cocaine from the backpack in the rear of the car.
In a subsequent search of Avila’s apartment, the following items were found: a .380 caliber semi-automatic Ruger handgun, a box of .380 caliber ammunition containing approximately 44 round, approximately one kilogram of cocaine, a digital scale with white residue on it, eight plastic baggies containing a total of 218 grams of methamphetamine, and a money counter. As part of his plea agreement, Avila has acknowledged that all the items belonged to him.
On June 15, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted Avila and Santiago. Both defendants were charged with two counts: (1) conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1)(B), and (2) possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B). Both defendants pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count and the substantive possession count was dismissed.
In addition to the prison term, Judge White sentenced Avila to a four-year period of supervised release.
For his role in the scheme, Santiago pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count on September 13, 2017. On January 23, 2017, the Judge White sentenced Santiago to five years in prison and a four-year term of supervised release. Both Avila and Santiago have been in custody since their arrests on March 31, 2017.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christiaan Highsmith is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Theresa Benitez. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by HSI, the Alameda County Narcotics Task Force, and the California Highway Patrol.