Three Additional Defendants Sentenced in Cocaine Trafficking Operation in the Tri-Cities Area
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 22, 2012|
GREENEVILLE, TN—On June 21, 2012, three more individuals involved in a large scale cocaine and marijuana trafficking operation were sentenced in U.S. District Court by the Honorable Leon Jordan, U.S. District Judge.
Andres Linares, 31, of Knoxville, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 124 months in prison; Manuel Perez Burelo, 35, of Kingsport, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 132 months in prison; and Pablo Jose Pacheco, 49, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison, for their respective involvement in this vast conspiracy operating in the Tri-Cities area of East Tennessee. Linares, Burelo, and Pacheco are all in the country illegally from Mexico and will be deported after serving their sentences.
A total of 36 defendants were indicted in October 2010 for engaging in large scale cocaine and marijuana trafficking. The conspiracy was responsible for the distribution of several kilograms of cocaine per month in the Tri-Cities area over an extended period of time. Law enforcement agents made over 100 cocaine buys from the various individuals in this conspiracy. Ultimately, law enforcement agents concluded the overall investigation by executing 13 search warrants at various locations in Johnson City, Kingsport, and Knoxville, Tennessee. During these searches, agents found approximately 3.5 kilograms of cocaine, 200 pounds of marijuana, and a significant number of firearms and ammunition.
Linares was identified as the main cocaine source of supply to the Tri-Cities area. A search warrant executed at his Knoxville residence resulted in the seizure of two kilograms of cocaine. In September 2010, he was also involved in a traffic stop near Knoxville, Tennessee, where before officers could reach his vehicle, Linares fled on foot, jumped a guardrail, and ran into the woods with over $20,000 in cash from a prior cocaine sale.
Burelo was one of the primary cocaine dealers in the Tri-Cities area. Of the over 100 cocaine buys involved in the entire case, at least 20 purchases were made from him alone. In June 2010, he also distributed a firearm to a confidential informant during the course of another cocaine transaction.
Pacheco stipulated in his plea agreement that he intended to stop assisting in the operation of a local prostitution ring in order to dedicate himself to selling cocaine. He was caught on a subsequent recording negotiating with his source of supply, Tomas Estrada Sarabia to purchase one kilogram of cocaine.
At the present time, approximately 30 of those charged have already been sentenced, with more scheduled for sentencing hearings over the next few months. One individual is set for trial in August 2012.
U.S. Attorney William C. Killian stated, “The arrests and convictions in this case resulted in the elimination of massive quantities of cocaine being distributed in the Eastern District of Tennessee. The main distributors were in the country illegally. I want to thank all those involved in bringing these individuals to justice and removing some dangerous people from our society.”
Law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation which led to indictment and subsequent convictions of Fernandez, Mojica, and others include the Tennessee First Judicial District Drug Task Force; Tennessee Second Judicial District Drug Task Force; Sullivan County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; Kingsport, Tennessee Police Department; Bristol, Tennessee Police Department; Carter County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; Elizabethton, Tennessee Police Department; Erwin, Tennessee Police Department; Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; Johnson City, Tennessee Police Department; Jonesborough, Tennessee Police Department; Hamblen County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; Morristown, Tennessee Police Department; Johnson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; Knox County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; Knoxville, Tennessee Police Department; Knoxville, Tennessee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force; Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, all of which provided invaluable assistance during the course of the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor represented the United States.
This case was part of the Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) programs. OCDETF is the primary weapon of the United States against the highest level drug trafficking organizations operating within the United States, importing drugs into the United States, or laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking. The HIDTA program enhances and coordinates drug control efforts among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The program provides agencies with coordination, equipment, technology, and additional resources to combat drug trafficking and its harmful consequences in critical regions of the United States.