Guatemalan Leader of Multi-Ton Cocaine Trafficking Organization Sentenced to Almost 22 Years in Prison
SAN DIEGO – U.S. Navy Captain (Retired) Jesus Vasquez Cantu was sentenced today to 30 months in prison by a federal district judge in San Diego on charges that he received lavish bribes from foreign defense contractor Leonard Francis, who plied him with luxurious hotel stays, travel, and prostitutes. Cantu was also ordered to pay a criminal fine of $75,000 and restitution to the U.S. Navy in the amount of $100,000.
“Mr. Cantu entered a den of corruption and in the process repudiated his oath and betrayed the sacred trust placed in him by the American people,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “The Department of Justice and our agency partners will never relent in our pursuit of justice for schemes that dishonor our armed forces.”
Grossman thanked the prosecution team and agency partners for their excellent work on this case.
In his plea agreement, Cantu acknowledged that Francis took him and others out for drinks and dinners at posh restaurants, nightclubs and karaoke bars and paid for lavish hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes on numerous occasions in 2012 and 2013, during which time Cantu was the deputy commander, MSC Far East in Singapore, in charge of logistical sustainment to Navy ships operating in the Seventh Fleet. Cantu admitted that in return for these luxuries, he provided proprietary U.S. Navy information to Francis, and that he used his power and influence to help Francis and his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, known as GDMA, in its ship husbanding business.
Cantu also admitted in his plea agreement that, in 2007, when he was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics for the Commander of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet aboard the USS Blue Ridge, he and others participated in a bribery conspiracy with Francis. Cantu and other members of the conspiracy accepted an ongoing stream of bribes from Francis, and in exchange, Cantu was influenced in the performance of his official Navy responsibilities and acted in violation of his official Navy duties.
“Mr. Cantu's sentencing holds him accountable for crimes he committed while serving as a senior Naval officer. His unconscionable criminal activity profoundly dishonored his oath, and unquestionably failed to meet the exacting standards required of all U.S. military personnel,” said Kelly P. Mayo, the Director of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). “DCIS and its investigative partners will continue their tireless efforts to bring to justice those who choose a similar illicit and dishonorable path regardless of tenure or position.”
“Mr. Cantu betrayed his oath to his country and abused his position with the Navy by accepting lavish gifts from GDMA, including hotel rooms, entertainment, alcohol, and the services of prostitutes, in exchange for divulging sensitive information that helped Leonard Francis defraud the United States,” said NCIS Director Omar Lopez. “NCIS and our law enforcement partners remain committed to fully investigating all allegations of conspiracy, bribery and corruption that threaten the integrity of the Department of the Navy.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher, Valerie Chu, Michelle Wasserman, and David Chu of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
DEFENDANT Case Number: 17-CR-2376
Captain (Retired) Jesus Vasquez Cantu Age 64 Silverdale, Washington
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371
Maximum Penalty: Five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or twice the gross pecuniary gain or twice the gross pecuniary loss, whichever is greater
Defense Criminal Investigative Service
Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Defense Contract Audit Agency
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Pletcher (619) 546-9714 and Valerie H. Chu (619) 546-6750