ALBANY, Ga. – A man who has been on the run from authorities since 2013 for his role in distributing kilograms of cocaine in Southwest Georgia has pleaded guilty in federal court for his crimes.
Juan Tello, 34, of Monterrey, Mexico, pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine before U.S. District Judge Louis Sands on Sept. 20. Tello faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $1,000,000 fine. Tello’s sentencing is expected to occur within 90 days.
“After nearly a decade on the run—and thanks to a U.S. Marshal’s fugitive operation that brought him into custody—Tello is being held accountable for his role in the distribution of many kilograms of controlled substances in Southwest Georgia,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “I want to commend our law enforcement partners at every level for their collaboration in this case, and helping us bring a wanted fugitive to justice.”
“This case is a shining example of how DEA and its law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to pursue the far stretching tentacles of drug traffickers who seek to run from justice,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Robert J. Murphy. “Now that this defendant has been apprehended, he will ultimately spend well-deserved time in prison.”
“Although this cocaine trafficker eluded authorities for years, we are reminded that there is no expiration date on justice. Thank you to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DEA, and the U.S. Marshal’s Service for their partnership and for seeing this case through,” said GBI Director Michael Register.
According to court documents, a 2010 wiretap investigation of Tello and other named and unnamed co-conspirators into the distribution of cocaine resulted in a controlled buy in Albany on Aug. 8, 2010; agents observed individuals negotiating the price of cocaine and providing a sample eight-ball to a cooperating individual (CI). During later recorded calls between Tello and the CI, Tello stated that he had one kilogram of cocaine ready for immediate delivery and could have another three kilograms within a few days. In additional recorded meetings, Tello complained to the CI that his unnamed co-conspirators had been robbed of approximately ten kilograms of cocaine. A few months after the Aug. 2010 meeting, agents learned co-conspirators were responsible for distributing hundreds of kilograms of cocaine in Georgia and to whom. Agents also learned that a co-conspirator arranged for others to commit an armed assault on another co-conspirator transporting eight kilograms of cocaine. Tello was released on bond in Jan. 2013, and failed to appear at court proceedings. In 2022, he was arrested in Texas resulting from a fugitive investigation undertaken by the United States Marshal Service (USMS). Tello is being held accountable for distributing between five and 15 kilograms of cocaine.
The case was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah McEwen is prosecuting the case.