FRESNO, Calif. — Patrick Maldonado, 45, of Madera, and Elias Zambrano Jr., 41, of Fresno, have been sentenced to eight years in prison and two years and three months in prison, respectively, for an interstate drug conspiracy involving shipments of marijuana to the Midwest, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
Maldonado and Zambrano pleaded guilty earlier this year. According to court documents, in November 2018, Maldonado coordinated with Tan Minh Vo, 48, of San Jose, to send two shipments of marijuana to Halen Frazier, 34, of Kingsville, Missouri. The first shipment was seized from Frazier during a traffic stop after Tien Van Phan, 56, of Milpitas, delivered 92 pounds of marijuana to Frazier in two suitcases at a hotel in Kansas City.
Later, agents intercepted calls between Maldonado, Zambrano, and Frazier in which they discussed the shipment of 384 pounds of marijuana to Frazier in Kansas City. Maldonado and Zambrano had packed the load in a hidden compartment of a trailer of a truck driven by David McGowan, 61, of Kansas City. Arizona State Troopers discovered the marijuana and $1,629 in cash after a traffic stop.
Following the seizure of marijuana in Arizona, agents executed a search warrant at Maldonado’s and Zambrano’s residences. At Maldonado’s residence, agents found more than 3 kilograms of cocaine, 20 pounds of marijuana, a handgun, and $45,281 in cash. At Zambrano’s residence, agents found more marijuana, an electronic money counter, an unregistered pistol, and a so‑called “ghost gun.” U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd has ordered the forfeiture of the cash and firearms.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force consisting of agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tulare, Kings, and Fresno County Sheriff’s Offices, the Fresno Police Department, the Arizona Department of Health, and the Kansas City Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.
Phan and Frazier, who also pleaded guilty, were previously sentenced to three and one half years and two years and three months in prison, respectively. Charges are pending against McGowan and Vo, who are scheduled for a status conference on Nov. 10, 2021. As to these defendants, the charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.