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City man given 65-year prison sentence

Staff Reports • Feb 8, 2013 at 9:30 PM

GREENEVILLE –– A Johnson City man was sentenced to 65 years in federal prison Thursday after being convicted on drug and firearm charges Aug. 23, according to a district court news release.

According to the release, Mario Hernandez Velazquez, 45, was convicted of distribution and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, being an illegal immigrant in the U.S. in possession of a firearm and ammunition, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

Judge Leon Jordan sentenced him to prison Thursday and he will not be eligible for parole.

In October 2010, Velazquez was indicted as one of 36 defendants for his part in a large-scale cocaine trafficking organization that distributed several kilograms of cocaine per month in the Tri-Cities area over a long period of time.

The release said Velazquez sold cocaine or assisted in the sale of cocaine to an informant working with law enforcement on numerous occasions in 2010. Velazquez allegedly admitted during the transactions that he was a firearms dealer for a criminal organization and was always armed, as well as told the informant that he packed his cocaine and guns in a suitcase and traveled with it wherever he went after his residence was broken into and cocaine was stolen.

Velazquez’s co-defendants included Tomas Estrada Sarabia, Antonio Herrera, Manuel Burelo and Andres Linares, who were respectively sentenced to 480 months, 211 months, 134 months and 124 months in prison. Luciano Hernandez Valiente, Amansio Garcia Juarez and Adan Fernandez were each sentenced to 120 months.

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