Six years for Cuban man for role in coke deal
By Teresa Auch Schultz email@example.com September 6, 2012 3:32PM
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:34PM
A man caught trading 23 kilograms of cocaine for $350,000 in cash at a Gary restaurant will serve six and a half years in prison.
Carlos Martinez, 28, a Cuban national who was living in Florida before his arrest, was sentenced Thursday at the U.S. District Court in Hammond after pleading guilty in May to conspiracy to distribute heroin.
Martinez and two other men were arrested in March 2011 after Chicago police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officers followed a blue Mazda MPV van from Chicago to the Country Pride Restaurant at 25th Avenue and Burr Street in Gary.
After seeing men enter and leave the van several times, the officers then saw the men walk toward a white and burgundy passenger bus, one that that investigators later learned Martinez had driven from Miami. After working in it for a while, Martinez drove away in the bus, and police pulled it over.
The men had placed drugs, worth more than $1 million, in a secret compartment in the bus and put the cash in the van as well.
Federal attorneys said in a sentencing memorandum that it appeared Martinez ranked the highest among the defendants as the most trusted representative of an unnamed organization selling the drugs. For instance, according to the memorandum, he had the authority to make decisions during the transaction.
However, his attorney, Paul Stracci, argued in his own memorandum that Martinez knew nothing about the scope of the conspiracy and that he was there on orders from other people who had set up the exchange.
Stracci also argued that Martinez had worked in the United States ever since he arrived legally but was hit hard during the economic recession when he lost his construction job.