A federal law-enforcement investigation into a Canada-based narcotics-and-money-laundering network operating in Southern California has resulted in the loss of freedom for a 33-year-old man who participated in a South Coast Plaza-area deal for 37 kilograms of cocaine.
Unbeknownst to Jun Jie Zhang, undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents using a confidential informant posing as a major drug trafficker orchestrated the March 2012 deal at a Starbucks near the 55 and 405 freeways.
According to a law-enforcement report, Zhang served as the money delivery man; either he can't count or is a petty thief, too, because he was supposed to transfer exactly $300,000 in cash for the cocaine, but he gave the confidential informant a plastic bag holding just $299,680.
The native of China, who spent his teen years in Ontario, Canada, where his family owns a restaurant, eventually admitted his guilt in hopes for leniency that would land him in a federal prison for no longer than 12 months.
A taxpayer-funded, criminal defense lawyer argued his client should be given credit because he did not handle the narcotics.
But on April 29, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter wasn't receptive to the argument and sentenced Zhang to a term of 41 months of incarceration.
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The drug trafficker is presently being housed under the control of U.S. marshals inside the Santa Ana Jail and will be bused to prison in coming days, according to records.
The government's case against 43-year-old John Philip Co, Zhang's co-defendant in the cocaine deal, is largely a mystery.
In February--after a flurry of briefs filed under seal, Carter sentenced Co, the alleged cocaine supplier in the transaction, in courtroom-closed secrecy.