KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two Mexican nationals have been convicted by a federal trial jury for their roles in a $2.1 million conspiracy to distribute over 100 kilograms of methamphetamine in the Kansas City metropolitan area and in northwest Missouri.
Juan Guzman, also known as “Flaco,” 40, of Kansas City, Missouri, and Maria De La Cruz Nava, 25, of Kansas City, Kansas, were found guilty on Tuesday, Nov. 9, of participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and in a money-laundering conspiracy over a nearly four-year period from Jan. 1, 2015, to Nov. 14, 2018. In addition to the conspiracies, Guzman and Nava were found guilty of possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking. Guzman was also found guilty of illegally reentering the United States after having been deported.
Guzman was the supplier for the drug-trafficking conspiracy, selling multiple kilograms of methamphetamine on a regular basis, sometimes daily, to multiple co-conspirators who then distributed methamphetamine to others. Guzman also involved others in storing methamphetamine. The jury found Nava assisted Guzman in his drug trafficking and money laundering activities.
Guzman, Nava, and several others were arrested at Guzman’s residence on Oct. 18, 2018. At the time of their arrest, officers seized two rifles, five handguns (one with an extended drum magazine), ammunition, 688 grams of methamphetamine, cash, and drug paraphernalia – including drug ledgers and drug packaging – from Guzman’s residence.
The federal indictment also requires the defendants to forfeit to the government $2.1 million, representing the proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy (based on a sale price of $600 per ounce and distribution of more than 3,500 ounces – nearly 100 kilograms – of methamphetamine).
Five defendants have pleaded guilty in this case: Chanthacone Senthavy, 47, a citizen of Laos residing in Independence, Mo., Luis Carlos Ramos Caraveo, 26, a citizen of Mexico residing in Kansas City, Mo., Christopher Shawn Sharp, 43, and John Paul Gnat, 31, both of St. Joseph, Mo., and Jacob Dale Walsh, 35, of Denton, Kan.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., deliberated for less than two hours before returning guilty verdicts on both defendants on all counts to U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes, ending a trial that began Friday, Nov. 5.
Under federal statutes, Guzman and Nava are subject to mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years in federal prison and maximum penalties of life in federal prison, all without parole. The minimum and maximum statutory sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the Court based on the statutory sentences, the advisory sentencing guidelines, and other statutory sentencing factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Bruce Rhoades and Robert M. Smith. It was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, Midwest HIDTA, the Independence, Mo., Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, the Jackson County Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the FBI.
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