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Gun-toting ringleader to face the music

A Fresno, California-based drug dealer who’s twice been convicted for drugs and once brandished firearms in a music video could face more than 15 years in prison for his admitted role in a guns-for-cocaine deal.

Gonzalo Manzo Jr. will be sentenced Tuesday in a federal court in Eugene for orchestrating a deal to trade a kilogram of cocaine for $21,000 and nine firearms with undercover federal agents based in Southern Oregon, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Medford.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking a 188-month prison sentence for Manzo, more than 15-1/2 years, citing his role coordinating multiple drivers to ship cocaine into Oregon and firearms into California.

Manzo’s trade of cocaine for firearms included a machine gun and silencers, “a certain subset that Congress has deemed inherently dangerous, especially when sought by those running things in the illegal drug world,” a sentencing brief filed Dec. 4 by federal prosecutors says.

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Two Beretta 9 millimeter pistols involved in the trade had silencers, and one was described as a Glock machine gun, according to the court documents. The U.S. Attorney’s Office included color photographs of all firearms involved, which also comprise six Colt .38 Supers.

Manzo reportedly directed Rodolfo Quevedo Jr. of California to deliver the kilogram of cocaine to what turned out to be undercover agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in August 2017. Quevedo has since pleaded guilty to his role trafficking cocaine to Southern Oregon, and will be sentenced Dec. 20, according to court documents.

Agents arrested Quevedo and co-defendant Jonathan Alan Ochoa shortly after the undercover sale, and seized all of the firearms. Ochoa pleaded guilty in October, and will be sentenced in February.

The sting led to Manzo’s arrest in California on Aug. 29, 2017, according to federal prosecutors. A search warrant issued at Manzo’s California home yielded 122 grams of cocaine, 33 grams of methamphetamine, $12,000 cash, along with rounds of .40 caliber ammunition and an extended .40 caliber magazine.

“Manzo is no stranger to what appear to be firearms, as seen in these screenshots from a 2015 YouTube music video,” the court documents state.

The screen shots appear to be from the song “I Got the Plug” by Fresno rapper West X, which shows Manzo wearing a Polo Ralph Lauren shirt and handling a handgun with a lighted sight, pointing it at the camera, and dancing behind the rapper.

The 2015 music video shows close to a dozen men handling firearms and stacks of cash inside a condemned house, doing muscle car burnouts and selling drugs from a dilapidated ice cream truck.

A disclaimer appears at the beginning of the video, “All weapons and money are props and made specifically for this film and handled by professionals.”

Federal prosecutors say Manzo has prior convictions for possessing methamphetamine for sale in 2008 and 2013.

Manzo pleaded guilty last August to felony counts of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He admitted he was “the ultimate decision maker” behind the drug deal, according to earlier news reports.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

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