MOBILE, Alabama — A Mexican drug dealer who pleaded guilty in a secret proceeding a year and a half ago will go to prison for almost 20 years, a federal judge decided this afternoon.
David Plata Segovia, 38, pleaded guilty in April 2009 behind closed courtroom doors, and the details of his plea agreement remained sealed until today.
U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade sentenced Segovia to 19 years and 10 months in prison. The sentence was two years less than the minimum under advisory guidelines. Granade said she wanted to give the defendant a break in recognition of the 10 months he spent imprisoned at the notorious Reclusorio Oriente, a Mexican prison that crams 13,500 inmates into a space deigned for 2,500.
The defense submitted a letter from the Mexican Human Rights Commission detailing those harsh conditions.
“I had hoped for a lesser sentence that that,” defense attorney Dom Soto said afterward.
The indictment filed in 2009 accused Segovia of supplying Daron Odell Jones, a Houston area drug dealer who pleaded guilty in Mobile’s federal court to running a sophisticated drug ring that poured 150 kilograms – or about 330 pounds – of cocaine into the Mobile area. It was one of a number of distribution points throughout the country, according to court records.
After his arrest, Jones identified Segovia – whom he knew as “Big Baby” – has his supplier.
Segovia also pleaded guilty to overlapping drug charges originating in Texas. Granade imposed the same sentence in that case but allowed Segovia to serve them both at the same time.
According to the plea agreement, law enforcement authorities in Texas seized about 100 kilograms of cocaine and more than $100,000 from June 21, 2003, to March 2006. All of came from the drug organization that Segovia worked for.
The plea document describes one of those seizures. On Nov. 1, 2003, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Raul Saucedo with 6 kilograms of cocaine in his vehicle. He told investigators that he was working for Segovia, whom he knew as “Flaco,” the document states.
Saucedo told investigators that he regularly picked up drug shipments from Segovia’s home in McAllen, Texas, and delivered them to customers in Houston. He also would carry money back to Segovia, according to the agreement.
The indictment filed in Mobile accused Segovia of conspiring to sell more than 500 kilograms of cocaine in the United States. He admitted to responsibility for 300 kilograms. Based on a per-kilogram price of $22,000, that would total $6.6 million.
As with the rest of the case against Segovia, today’s proceedings took place largely outside the earshot of spectators. Soto and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daryl Atchison discussed the case with the judge to the side of her bench, a white noise machine drowning out the conversation.
In an interview, Soto said his client was nothing more than a middleman between Jones and the cartel that controlled the drugs. He said Segovia got caught between warring cartels in his native Reynosa, on the other side of the border from Brownsville, Texas.
Soto said his client fled and got arrested by Mexican police who accused him of encroaching on territory controlled by a rival cartel that had paid off local law enforcement. Soto said authorities tortured Segovia, including pulling out his fingernails, and then tossed him in the Reclusorio Oriente.
Soto said the prison forces inmates to pay for their own food and, if they cannot, feeds them pig slop.
Mexican authorities handed Sevogia over to the United States after prosecutors filed the criminal charges in Mobile.
“It turns out that was not a bad deal,” he said.
Neither Soto nor Atchison said anything in open court today after their private conference with the judge. The only person to speak was Segovia, who through an interpreter, apologized.
“I would just like to ask for forgiveness from the United States for the crimes I have committed and ask for mercy,” he said.
By Brendan Kirby Al.com on December 21, 2012 at 3:26 PM
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