Cocaine Trafficker Thought He’d Outfoxed Federal Detectives

The leader of an international cocaine distribution network based in Southern California had hoped coded cell phone text messages with his underlings would protect the narcotics ring from law enforcement detectives but he was mistaken.

Richard Manuel Pimentel of Torrance also had assumed that carrying 12 cell phones would help keep police clueless about his activities but he was mistaken about that idea too.

Undercover investigators working with the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Section of the U.S. Department of Justice quietly kept physical and electronic surveillance on Pimental’s operation as it transported hundreds of pounds of high-quality cocaine from Mexico to Orange and Los Angeles counties as well as to Canada in 2013 and 2014.

A March 2015 federal grand jury indicted Pimental along his crew on illegal cocaine distribution and money laundering charges.

Over the years, a judge handed out the following incarceration punishments: 46 months for Javier Rodriguez; 87 months for Rodolfo Antonio Pimentel; and 145 months for Enrique Rodriguez.

U.S. District Court Judge Dale S. Fischer this month sentenced the 45-year-old drug dealer to a term of 11 years in federal prison and a $300,000 fine.

Pimental, who agreed with prosecutors that he deserved a significant punishment, will also undergo a decade of supervised probation after he is released from custody.

Home for him is now the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.

CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.

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