Federal Inmate Pleads Guilty To Obstructing Justice In Coconspirator’s Case

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Tampa, FL – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Manuel Angel Burgos (39, Brooksville) today pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States. Burgos faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court filings, Burgos and Javier Monserrate Vazquez conspired to obtain kilograms of cocaine in packages sent from Puerto Rico to Zephyrhills. Text messages between the two corroborated their involvement, and Burgos made a post-Miranda statement to law enforcement implicating Monserrate Vazquez and another coconspirator. Burgos pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

After Burgos was imprisoned, Monserrate Vazquez tried to corruptly obstruct his pending federal case by getting witnesses to sign affidavits exonerating him. Monserrate Vazquez and others tried to influence witnesses through payments and, in the case of one witness, relocating him to avoid a subpoena. While in federal prison, Burgos signed an affidavit falsely claiming that Monserrate Vazquez had nothing to do with drug trafficking and that certain text messages between the two about packages of cocaine were innocent in nature. Burgos knew these statements were false when he signed the affidavit; Burgos received payments to his prison inmate account from a family member of Monserrate Vazquez’s prior to signing the affidavit.

The United States is also seeking the forfeiture of $1,390, which represents the proceeds obtained by the defendant as a result of the offenses.

This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Baeza.