(STL.News) – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Raul Everado Ledesma Abarca, 36, of San Diego, California, who was convicted following a jury trial of: conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine; possessing with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine; and maintaining a drug-involved premises, was sentenced to serve 324 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Adler and Jeremiah E. Lenihan, who handled the prosecution of the case, stated that between September 2014 and September 2016, the defendant, along with co-defendant Armando Ernesto Abarca and others, conspired to possess and distribute cocaine. The defendants rented a storage unit in Amherst, NY, to store the cocaine. The unit was rented on the same day that a 104 kilogram shipment of cocaine arrived in Buffalo. A total of 43 kilograms of cocaine were discovered after the unit was purchased at an auction due to delinquent rent payments. The fingerprints of both the defendant and Armando Abarca were discovered on items in the unit.
Prior to the discovery of the cocaine in Amherst, the Abarcas were investigated for cocaine trafficking in Ohio. The Government presented evidence at trial of the seizure of 55 kilograms of cocaine in Dayton, OH, in a vehicle registered to a Buffalo, NY address. Approximately half of the 55 kilograms was intended for the defendant’s distribution operation based out of Columbus, OH.
Armando Ernesto Abarca, 22, of Modesto, California, who was previously convicted of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, was previously sentenced to serve 168 months in prison.
“These drug dealers operated a nationwide drug trafficking organization,” noted U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Dedicated and talented law enforcement professionals working here in Western New York, assisted by law enforcement officers from across the country, were able to build a strong case and see to it that these individuals will not have the opportunity to peddle their poison in Western New Yorkers—or anywhere else in America—for years to come.”
The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, New York Field Office; and the Amherst Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Askey. Additional assistance was provided by ICE-HSI in Los Angeles, California; DEA in Columbus, OH; and DEA in Dayton, OH.