"Caught on Video": Two Georgia Men Convicted in Federal Drug Conspiracy Trial
Contact Person: Lance Crick (864) 282-2100
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today thatDaniel Rodriguez, age 26, of Lilburn, Georgia, and Jesus Buruca-Martinez, age 22, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, were found guilty yesterday afternoon in federal court in Greenville, South Carolina, of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, a violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. Rodriguez was also found guilty of two counts of using a communication device (telephone) to facilitate the commission of a drug felony, a violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 843(b). United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs presided over the trial and will impose sentence after she has reviewed pre-sentence reports which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented at trial established that, beginning in early 2012, agents and task force officers with the DEA in Greenville, began investigating an upstate-based methamphetamine distribution network that was being sourced with pounds of methamphetamine from individuals in the Atlanta-area. Ultimately, over a two-year investigation and some seven superseding indictments, twenty-seven defendants were indicted in the conspiracy, with twenty-five entering guilty pleas. The investigation revealed that two members of this conspiracy, Dustin Tiller and Nicanor Perez-Rodriguez, both inmates in the South Carolina Department of Corrections at the time, contacted members of their families on the outside to arrange for methamphetamine to be transported from Georgia into South Carolina for further distribution.
After identifying Daniel Rodriguez as a Georgia-based member of the conspiracy who was making frequent trips to South Carolina to bring methamphetamine as well as collect drug proceeds, members of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and Anderson City Police Department were able to establish surveillance on Rodriguez, on Sunday, August 5, 2012, as Rodriguez met with other members of this conspiracy, to include Jesus Buruca-Martinez, in the parking lot of a restaurant, located off of Exit 19, Interstate 85, in Anderson County.
Agents then maintained surveillance on Rodriguez and Buruca-Martinez as they traveled in tandem, both driving separate vehicles, to a residence in Belton, South Carolina. Maintaining surveillance on the Belton residence, agents observed Buruca-Martinez leave the residence, followed by Rodriguez’s departure some twenty minutes later. Traffic stops were conducted on both vehicles and law enforcement seized $20,240 in cash from Buruca-Martinez.
Following the execution of a federal search warrant at the Belton residence and the arrest of Rodriguez, Buruca-Martinez, and others, that evening, agents reviewed a home surveillance system seized in the search. The surveillance system had an operational camera imaging the living room of the residence, attached to a digital video recording (DVR) system. In reviewing the images on the DVR, which dated back some two weeks from the incident date, agents observed Rodriguez arriving at the residence on two previous occasions in July 2012.
Regarding the activity inside the residence on August 5, 2012, a review of the video revealed Rodriguez, Buruca-Martinez, and third co-conspirator, who rode with Rodriguez that day from Georgia, counting, for several minutes, over $20,000 in cash. Witnesses testified that this cash was partial payment applied to the overall drug debt owed to Rodriguez and others for pounds of methamphetamine previously provided on consignment. As the money count concluded, the video showed Buruca-Martinez bundling two cash parcels, placing one in each cargo short pocket, and exiting the residence, ultimately heading south on Interstate 85 before he was stopped by law enforcement.
Nettles stated that Rodriguez and Buruca-Martinez both face a maximum penalty of life in prison and are both subject to a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years in prison.
Nettles stated that the case was investigated and prosecuted by members of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a taskforce coordinated by the United States Attorney’s Office. Members of the task force involved in this investigation included the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Anderson City Police Department, the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorneys Andy Moorman and Lance Crick of the Greenville office handled the prosecution.