Mexican head of Georgia drug cell gets 16 years in prison

The head of a drug trafficking cell in Georgia that distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine worth millions of dollars across metro Atlanta was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison on Thursday.

Oliver Maciel-Macedo received the stiff sentence despite his attorney’s claims that the man was a mere foot soldier working for powerbrokers in Mexico.

Defense attorney Bruce Harvey said his client was a pawn in a sprawling drug organization who was paid to do the bidding of a shadowy Mexican drug kingpin known as «El Negro.»

But prosecutors said Maciel-Macedo played an important role in distributing cocaine across the state. U.S. District Judge Richard Story said he agreed when he sentenced the 29-year-old to several more years in prison than his attorney said was reasonable.

«It’s a serious crime that requires a serious response,» the judge said, concluding that the suspect was a «company man» who clearly played a managerial role.

Maciel-Macedo was one of the biggest catches federal investigators landed when he and others were arrested in August 2009 as part of what authorities called «Operation Four Horsemen.» In all, investigators say, the operation led to the dismantling of two drug rings and the seizure of $21 million and about one ton of cocaine.

Authorities nabbed Maciel-Macedo, who led one of the cells, after following him to a bus parked behind a hotel in northwest Atlanta, where they watched him and another man transfer cocaine to his car. Agents said they then followed the two men to a pair of stash houses in metro Atlanta, where they later confiscated about 150 kilograms of cocaine and more than $5 million.

Maciel-Macedo pleaded guilty to the drug-related charges, and at Thursday’s sentencing hearing his attorney called him a «classic foot soldier» who was used by powerful drug lords in Mexico.

«He does what he’s told, but he doesn’t make any decisions about the price or where it goes,» said Harvey, who urged the judge to sentence his client to fewer than 13 years in prison. «The players sent him up front while they’re off in the distance making the money. And he’s paying the price.»

Maciel-Macedo also pleaded with the judge for mercy, vowing to be a better father to his three young daughters when he’s released from prison.

«I just ask for a second opportunity,» he said through an interpreter.

But federal authorities said they had plenty of proof that he was in charge of several workers who made sure the massive loads of cocaine shipped in from Mexico were safely distributed around Georgia.

He may have taken orders from Mexico, but he had complete discretion over how to carry out those orders here, said Thomas Jackson of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Harry S. Sommers, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “DEA wants to make it clear that the law enforcement community will not tolerate the drug trafficking activities of Mexican cartel operatives who have targeted Atlanta as a base of operations.

The other defendants in the conspiracy have been sentenced as follows:

Ulises Giocochea-Solorio, 41, of Alpharetta, Georgia, was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Eduardo Antonio Moreno-Rosales, 27, of Mexico, was sentenced to 14 years and seven months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Roberto Carlos De Los Santos, 35, of Mexico, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Jose Antonio Ayvar-Soberanis, 43, of Tulsa, OK, was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Juan Alberto Garcia, 36, of Cordele, Georgia, was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Alejandro Sanchez-Morales, 26, of Mexico, was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Jose Edenilson-Reyes, 39, of Katy, Texas, was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Jose Lombera-Monje, 34, of Mexico, was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Osmin Zumaya-Azuara, 39, of Penitas, Texas, was sentenced to six years and six months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Eduardo Javier Bernal, 33, of San Antonio, Texas, was sentenced to six years and six months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Eleazer Hernandez-Valdez, 45, of Mexico, was sentenced to five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Jose Luis Morales-Samano, 38, of Mexico, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Erika Delrosio Palomino, 24, of Duluth, Georgia, was sentenced to two years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Jimmy John Silva, 32, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, was sentenced to one year and six months in prison followed by one year of supervised release.

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