California man who ran drug ring from prison gets 25 years in federal prison

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 17, 2013, at 9:34 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A California man found guilty of using contraband cellphones while incarcerated at a California prison to direct the distribution of drugs in Maine and other states was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to 25 years in federal prison.

Mark “Little Mexico” Razo, 23, of Los Angeles, Calif., was convicted March 1 by a federal jury on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine between April and August 2011. He also was convicted on three counts of using a telephone to commit a federal drug crime.

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock sentenced Razo to six years of supervised release after he completes his prison term, according to information posted on the court system’s website.

Razo’s relatives appeared before Woodcock by video conference from Los Angeles. They asked for leniency and that he serve his sentence at a facility in California if possible.

The defendant told Woodcock Monday that he had avoided getting involved in gangs growing up in southern California. and was going to college when “a toxic relationship” with a former girlfriend landed him in prison on drug charges. Once in prison, Razo said he “got sucked” into the drug trade.

“In the end, I wish I never knew what drugs were,” he told Woodcock. “They did me no good.”

The native Californian was indicted by a federal grand jury in April with Barry “Lucky” Diaz, 31, of Stamford, Conn. Originally, Razo and Diaz were to be tried together. Their trials were severed so that Diaz could be treated for undisclosed mental health issues.

Diaz was found competent to stand trial April 4. His trial is scheduled to be held in January in federal court in Bangor.

Razo was serving a sentence for a drug conviction at a prison in Jamestown, Calif., when he contacted Diaz. Diaz traveled to Iowa, Arizona, California, Connecticut and Maine to obtain and distribute drugs, according to a previously published report.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor argued at Razo’s trial that his client could not have participated in the conspiracy because he was incarcerated.

Information about how Razo obtained cellphones while in prison was not revealed in court documents.

Wiretaps on Diaz’s phone showed that he called Razo once on May 7, 2011, and twice on July 26, 2011, the jury found.

In June 2011, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Portland, who were monitoring the wiretap, learned that Razo had arranged for a four-pound shipment of methamphetamine to Iowa, according to a press release issued earlier this year by the U.S. attorney’s office.

Law enforcement personnel in Iowa seized the shipment. Agents also learned through the wiretap that Razo had arranged for the distribution of other drugs across the country, the release said.

Razo faced up to life in federal prison and a fine of up to $10 million on the drug conspiracy charge, the most serious charge, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Under the federal sentencing guidelines Razo faced between 30 years and life in prison.

Woodcock found that Razo had a leadership role in the conspiracy and was a career offender due to his criminal record. The judge said prior to sentencing Razo that because none of the other defendants who had been sentenced in the conspiracy had faced such a long period of incarceration, he would depart from the advisory sentencing guideline range.

The case was investigated by the DEA, with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office; the Southeast Iowa Drug Task Force; the Wapello County, Iowa, Sheriff’s Office; investigators from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the Stamford, Conn., Police Department; the Augusta Police Department and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/17/news/bangor/california-man-who-ran-drug-ring-from-prison-gets-25-years-in-federal-prison/ printed on July 22, 2014