Kansas men convicted in $28 million drug conspiracy case

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A federal jury has returned guilty verdicts against three men, two of whom are from northeast Kansas, convicted for their roles in a $28 million drug trafficking conspiracy.

The U.S. attorney's office said Marvin Lee Ellis, 36, of Kansas City, Kansas, 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 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.

Vernon Brown, 36, also of Kansas City, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine.

Robert Vasquez of Socorro, Texas, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of money laundering. A fourth defendant 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.

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, where troopers stopped him and seized a black duffel bag containing about $550,000 in cash.

During trial, prosecutors also presented evidence that members of the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department’s narcotics unit working undercover were able to buy crack cocaine several times in February and March 2012 from Marvin Ellis at 921 Haskell and at other locations in Kansas City.

Ellis, Vasquez and Brown will be set for sentencing at a later date.

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