In March 2012, clueless Orange County illegal drug and weapons dealer Juan Carlos Preciado sent text messages to a confidential informant working for federal and local law enforcement agents conducing “Operation Halo.”
“Sup my boy,” Preciado wrote to the informant, who replied “Not much homie and u?”
Over the next four days, the drug dealer sent additional text messages indicating he was ready to negotiate the sale of 27.5 grams of methamphetamine, a 9mm Cobray M-11 semi-automatic pistol and two, 30-round magazines.
On the day the informant prepared to meet Preciado to complete the transactions, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Anaheim Police Department officers provided him electronic and surveillance equipment for recording the meeting at a 7-Eleven parking lot in Anaheim.
The informant gave Preciado $700 for the meth and $900 for the firearm.
Like any good salesman, Preciado planned for future business, telling the informant he was expecting the arrival of six AR-15 rifles and they'd be on the underworld market for $6,600.
In part because of the presence of a weapon in the drug transaction, Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Keenan and officials in the U.S. Probation Office believed that Preciado's crimes warranted a 70-month prison trip.
“Trafficking in methamphetamine destroys communities,” Keenan declared in a filing. “Indeed, the investigation that led to this and other related cases was initiated largely to address the adverse affects of drug-trafficking by a street-gang on a community in the north central part of the City of Anaheim.”
But a taxpayer-provided criminal defense lawyer for 21-year-old Preciado, who was already a convicted felon on separate weapons and drug charges, argued that Keenan's suggested punishment was too harsh. He called for a term of 46 months.
This month inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford considered the arguments and decided to send the defendant away for 63 months.
Guilford also ordered Preciado–who will have to undergo federal supervised probation for four years when he emerges back into freedom–to no longer associate with The Lott gang.
Prison records don't yet reflect the defendant's arrival.