An undercover Drug Enforcement Adminstration (DEA) operation investigating a conspiracy to annually import from Mexico more than 75 kilograms of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin into Southern California has resulted in a severe punishment for one of the drug dealers.
In pre-sentencing maneuverings, a defense lawyer argued that phone intercepts of calls involving Santa Ana's Juvenal Ibarra Mora were innocent, non-narcotics related, and that DEA agents used "spin on top of spin mixed with speculation" to conclude otherwise.
But the claim was laughable.
For example, federal agents recorded Mora discussing harvesting "rice" with another drug dealer, who was under surveillance and stopped on the 57 Freeway at Chapman Avenue. A K9 dog directed officers to the backseat. Beneath a steel panel and loads of laundry detergent, the cops found packages containing 1.2 pounds of heroin and 9.8 pounds of cocaine.
The vehicle contained no rice.
The CHP stopped Mora on the 405 Freeway and confiscated $74,000 in cash (all 100 dollar bills) from a hidden compartment.
Last August, Mora signed a guilty plea acknowledging that he unwittingly used government-mointored cell phones to sell 3.77 kilograms of cocaine and 550.4 grams of heroin in an widespread OC to Pico Rivera operation.
Before U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter rendered punishment, Mora's defense lawyer made the so-called innocent phone calls pitch in hopes of reducing punishment for his client.
Mora sought 60 months in prison, but at any rate, no more than 87 months.
This week, Carter decided to send the drug dealer away for 100 months.
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The 45-year-old father remains locked inside the Santa Ana Jail today and awaits a bus trip to a federal prison.
Assistant United States Attorney Joseph T. McNally handled prosecution duties in the case.