Manzo web.jpg
Manzo web.jpg

Sting leads to coke trafficker's downfall

A California man has admitted to his role in a drug trafficking ring that sold more than two pounds of cocaine to undercover agents based in Southern Oregon.

Gonzalo Manzo Jr., 33, admitted Monday in U.S. District Court in Medford to drug conspiracy and firearms charges involving himself and two co-defendants stemming from a sting operation in summer 2017, which allegedly involved the sale of a kilogram of cocaine in exchange for $21,000 and firearms, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and recent court filings.

Manzo pleaded guilty to felony counts of conspiring to distribute cocaine and possessing cocaine with intent to distribute it, along with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime, admitting he was “the ultimate decision maker” behind the drug deal arranged in California for a kilo of coke — roughly 2.2 pounds — sold to undercover agents between July 25 and Aug. 17 of last year, according to a plea agreement signed by Manzo and filed Monday.

Two alleged co-conspirators, Jonathan Alan Ochoa and Rodolfo Quevedo Jr., face the same charges as Manzo for their alleged roles getting the drugs to Southern Oregon.

Manzo says he worked with Ochoa in negotiating the cocaine deal with undercover agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directed Quevedo to deliver the cocaine to Ochoa in the Medford area ahead of the hand-off, according to the court document.

Recent court documents say the deal was for $21,000 and guns, including two Beretta 92FS Parabellum pistols equipped with silencers and a fully automatic Glock Model 18 machine pistol.

Six handguns were also seized from Manzo and Ochoa, including five Colt .38 Super series guns and a Para 1911 pistol, according to a court document filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office Thursday.

Manzo has a sentencing hearing set for Jan. 24, 2019. Federal prosecutors and Manzo’s public defender have agreed on a sentence of 15 years, eight months in the case, according to court documents.

Manzo remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail, where he’s been held since Sept. 28, 2017, jail records show.

Under terms of the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office won’t charge Manzo with additional crimes arising out of the investigation.

In the case of another individual in Manzo’s orbit, Victor “Vector” Vega Padilla, federal prosecutors allege that Manzo and Padilla trafficked roughly four pounds of methamphetamine to Southern Oregon, according to a brief filed by federal prosecutors ahead of Padilla’s sentencing last June.

Padilla, now serving a 30-month prison sentence for possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, was captured during a Springfield sting last summer during the investigation into Manzo, according to court documents.

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

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