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Thursday July 7th, 2022 5:57AM

California pair charged with smuggling drugs to 5 states

By The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California pair not only smuggled drugs to five other states but repeatedly impersonated federal law enforcement officers as part of the nationwide scheme, a U.S. grand jury alleged this week.

A federal grand jury in Sacramento on Thursday indicted Quinten Giovanni Moody, also known as Christano Rossi, 37, and Myra Boleche Minks, 46, on charges of drug trafficking, impersonating federal law enforcement officials, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstruction of justice.

They used couriers, airline employees and a shipping company to send California-grown marijuana to Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada and Texas from 2017 into this year, prosecutors said. Pot purchased for $1,500 per pound in California in 2017 would be sold for $2,600 per pound in Georgia, according to an FBI affidavit.

And from last year until this spring, they said Minks repeatedly posed as various federal agents in attempts to learn about or disrupt the investigation. She also posed as an airline employee in an attempt to persuade other employees to let a courier complete a drug delivery, the affidavit says.

Officials are seeking to arrest Minks and did not know of an attorney who could speak on her behalf.

On six different occasions, they allege Minks variously pretended to be a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent; an assistant U.S. attorney; an FBI special agent; an employee of the U.S. Secret Service; and an employee of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The ruses included posing as the DEA agent in what the affidavit said was an attempt to get inside information from the investigation into an April 2020 shootout between two vehicles on an interstate highway in Oakland, California, that left one victim dead.

Investigators recovered nearly $375,000 in cash packed in two suitcases from the dead man's vehicle.

The pair is also alleged to have submitted fake federal search warrants to a phone company in a bid to get location information for a cellphone, and to have given two different tow truck companies fake federal court orders in repeated attempts to retrieve two of Moody's vehicles from a secure parking lot at the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office.

Finally, the pair, along with a co-defendant, Jessica Tang of Sacramento, are alleged to have used identities stolen from unsuspecting individuals to file unemployment insurance claims, prompting the California Employment Development Department to disburse more than $120,000.

“Ms. Tang is a 48-year-old mother without a record. And then she met Myra Minks and now she’s indicted,” said Tang’s attorney, Thomas A. Johnson.

The multiple charges carry varying maximum sentences, including up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy and mail fraud charges.

Moody's attorney, Adam Gasner, said his client will plead not guilty and maintains his innocence.

“We ask there not be a rush to judgment and that Mr. Moody be allowed to defend himself in court and to avail himself to due process of law,” Gasner said in an email.

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