Tacony man sentenced for role in drug cartel


A Ta­cony res­id­ent was sen­tenced last week to serve 27 years in fed­er­al pris­on for or­ches­trat­ing a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar co­caine dis­tri­bu­tion ring from his home.

Richard Mo­quete, 35, of the 6300 block of Jack­son St., was a Mex­ic­an drug car­tel’s top loc­al con­nec­tion and “brought at least 1,500 kilo­grams of co­caine to the streets of Phil­adelphia,” ac­cord­ing to the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice. Mean­while, he dir­ec­ted the re­turn of “mil­lions of dol­lars in co­caine pro­ceeds” to the car­tel.

Co-de­fend­ant Tony Granado, 68, of El Paso, Texas, as­sisted Mo­quete by over­see­ing trans­port­a­tion of the drugs via long-haul truck­ers from Texas to Phil­adelphia by way of Dayton, Ohio, the pro­sec­utor said. Granado was sen­tenced to serve 30 years in fed­er­al pris­on.

In Janu­ary, a jury con­victed both men of drug dis­tri­bu­tion and con­spir­acy. Mo­quete faced a 10-year man­dat­ory min­im­um sen­tence, while Granado faced a 20-year man­dat­ory min­im­um.

Tri­al evid­ence in­cluded the testi­mony of a co­oper­at­ing in­form­ant, as well as the testi­mony of de­fend­ants who “per­son­ally de­livered co­caine to and picked up money from Mo­quete,” the U.S. At­tor­ney said.

The evid­ence also in­cluded re­cor­ded sur­veil­lance of Mo­quete “meet­ing with mem­bers of the (drug) or­gan­iz­a­tion and hand­ing over duffel bags” and en­ga­ging in in­crim­in­at­ing con­ver­sa­tion. At one point, Mo­quete told a wit­ness of “his co­caine traf­fick­ing and the money he was pay­ing for the co­caine,” the U.S. At­tor­ney said.

In court fil­ings, au­thor­it­ies al­leged that Mo­quete re­ceived and re-dis­trib­uted more than 1,500 kilo­grams of co­caine. Agents ul­ti­mately re­covered 13 kilo­grams, along with $3.5 mil­lion in cash.

Mo­quete’s at­tor­ney, Scott Sig­man, ques­tions why agents didn’t trace the rest of the drugs, al­though their co­oper­at­ing in­form­ant routinely handled the co­caine and money while un­der their su­per­vi­sion.

“Nobody knows where all the co­caine goes,” Sig­man said.

Ac­cord­ing to the de­fense at­tor­ney, the gov­ern­ment paid the in­form­ant as he in­filt­rated the Mex­ic­an car­tel and be­came the face of the op­er­a­tion in Phil­adelphia, meet­ing truck­ers as they ar­rived, drop­ping  off drugs and load­ing cash while keep­ing the car­tel’s loc­al con­tact in­su­lated from the cour­i­ers.

Mo­quete main­tained his in­no­cence throughout the case and may ap­peal his con­vic­tion and sen­tence, ac­cord­ing to Sig­man. ••


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