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Drug dealer gets 11+ years in prison

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Jacksonville, Florida – A convicted California drug trafficker who paid bribes to a corrupt Drug Enforcement Administration agent has been sentenced by a Florida judge to more than 11 years in federal prison.

According to U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg, a judge in Jacksonville, Florida, imposed the sentence on Francisco Gonzalez Benitez, 37, of Orange, California. Gonzalez Benitez pleaded guilty to drug and money laundering charges in April.

According to court documents, Gonzalez Benitez admitted shipping large quantities of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine from California to Jacksonville and Little Rock, Arkansas, between 2016 and 2019.

Gonzalez Benitez also had worked as an informant for DEA Agent Nathan Koen and paid the agent thousands of dollars in bribes to help provide “top cover protection” for the drug operation, prosecutors said.

Koen pleaded guilty in Arkansas federal court in August 2021 to a bribery charge and was sentenced in May to 11 years and three months behind bars — the same sentence as Gonzalez Benitez. A brother of Gonzalez Benitez also pleaded guilty to drug and other charges and received a 10-year prison sentence.

In 2018, the FBI began investigating Koen. In 2016, he transferred from Jacksonville to Little Rock.

According to prosecutors, the drug trafficker had paid Koen $31,500 before he began cooperating with the FBI.

Koen was arrested after the FBI recorded him accepting a $9,000 bribe from the trafficker inside a Las Vegas casino.

 

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