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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Drug courier captured in Pratt found guilty

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  • A man arrested in Pratt in 2010 in connection with a $28 million drug trafficking conspiracy has been found guilty in federal court, according to U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom.
    Marvin Lee Ellis, 36, Kansas City, Kan., was convicted Friday on one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, three counts of distributing crack cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, one count of maintaining a residence in furtherance of drug trafficking at 921 Haskell in Kansas City, Kan., one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction.
    Robert Vasquez, 40, Socorro, Texas, was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of money laundering.
    Vernon Brown, 36, Kansas City, Kan., was convicted on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine.
    A fourth defendant, Kyle Stephen, was acquitted.
    During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the defendants were part of a drug trafficking organization that in October 2010 became the target of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Investigators worked to identify both suppliers and customers of co-defendant Djuane Sykes.
    The investigation yielded the seizure and forfeiture of more than $2 million in cash, 194 firearms, 29 vehicles, 26 kilograms of cocaine and three kilograms of crack.
    Prosecutors presented evidence that the traffickers employed a group of couriers who would transport cocaine and marijuana from Mexico to Kansas City, and U.S. currency from the Kansas City area south to be smuggled into Mexico. Robert Vazquez was one of those couriers. On Jan. 13, 2012, investigators were watching when Vasquez met other conspirators at the Swift commercial trucking center in Edwardsville, Kan., and placed a bag inside his semitrailer truck. Investigators followed him to the area of Pratt, Kan., where the Kansas Highway Patrol stopped him and seized a black duffel bag containing $549,495 in U.S. currency.
    Ellis, Vasquez and Brown will be set for sentencing at a later date.

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