Fresno, California - Patrick Maldonado, 46, of Madera, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
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 him in two suitcases at a hotel in Kansas City.
Later, agents intercepted calls between Maldonado, co-defendant Elias Zambrano Jr., 41, of Fresno, 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 the trailer of a truck driven by co-defendant David McGowan, of Kansas City. Arizona State Troopers discovered the marijuana and $1,629 in cash after a traffic stop.
Following these seizures, agents executed a search warrant at Maldonado’s residence in Madera and found more than 3 kilograms of cocaine, 20 pounds of marijuana, a handgun, and approximately $45,281 in cash. In pleading guilty, Maldonado also agreed to the forfeiture of the firearm and cash.
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.
Maldonado is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 23. He faces a minimum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison, along with a $5 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Frazier and Phan previously entered guilty pleas to the drug conspiracy and were sentenced to two years and three months and three and one half years in prison, respectively. Zambrano recently entered a guilty plea and is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 16.
Charges are pending against McGowan and Vo, who are scheduled for a status conference on July 28. As to these defendants, the charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.