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Aitkin man sentenced to 20 years in federal prison

MINNEAPOLIS — A 42-year-old Aitkin man was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in Minnesota from 2008 through September of 2010.

United States District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis sentenced Robert Garcia to 20 years in prison on one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and one count of aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine. Davis also ordered Garcia to have no contact with members of the El Forastero motorcycle gang. Garcia was indicted on Oct. 5, 2010, along with three co-defendants. He was convicted on Feb. 18, 2011, following a four-day trial.

Evidence presented at trial established that from Jan. 1, 2008, through Sept. 29, 2010, Garcia and others sold large amounts of methamphetamine in and around Brainerd. Specifically, Garcia sold methamphetamine out of his business, DJ’s Auto Sales, located in Garrison. Trial evidence also showed that on June 24, 2010, Garcia ordered a pound of methamphetamine from the Twin Cities. As the drug was being transported to Brainerd, officers conducted a traffic stop and seized it.

On Oct. 14, 2010, a search warrant was executed at Garcia’s residence and his place of business. During the search of the home, officers recovered MDMA, also known as ecstasy, marijuana, and psilocybin mushrooms. In addition, they found five firearms and more than 900 rounds of ammunition. The search also revealed that Garcia had ties to the El Forastero motorcycle gang. During the course of the investigation, authorities seized a total of approximately 520 grams of pure methamphetamine linked to Garcia.

Following the sentencing, Bernard J. Zapor, special agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s St. Paul Field Division, said in a release, “The success of this investigation can be attributed to the strong partnership with local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies. ATF will continue to target these armed traffickers and reduce the violence in our communities by sending these defendants away to federal prison.”

On Aug. 2, 2011, co-defendant Noel Gutierrez Manzanares, age 38, no known address, was sentenced to 10 years on one count of conspiracy to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty to the charge on Feb. 8.

On Aug. 17, 2011, co-defendant Karl James Pentz, age 49, Aitkin, was sentenced to seven years, eight months in federal prison on one count of conspiracy to distribute in excess of five grams of methamphetamine and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty to the charges on Feb. 14, 2011. In addition to the conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, Pentz admittedly possessed firearms, including an AK-47 rifle. Because Pentz is a felon, he is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms at any time. Pentz’s prior felony convictions include third-degree possession of narcotics in Anoka County in 2002, fifth-degree possession of narcotics in Sherburne County in 2002 and fifth-degree possession of narcotics in Aitkin County in 2008.

On Sept. 8, 2011, co-defendant Randy Lee Motzko, age 43, of Hilltop was sentenced to time served on one count of conspiracy to distribute in excess of 50 grams of pure methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty on Feb. 4, 2011.

This case was the result of an investigation by the ATF, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, sheriff’s offices in Crow Wing, Aitkin, Mille Lacs, Isanti and Kanabec counties, Brainerd, Breezy Point and the Mille Lacs Tribal police departments, the Lakes Area Drug Investigation Division, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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