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A 'go-fer' for the 'cheapest drug dealer'
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MADISON - A Monroe man who worked as a "go-fer" for the "cheapest drug dealer ever" was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to 2 1/2 years in prison for conspiring to distribute up to 2.2 pounds of cocaine.

Raul Rodriguez Almanza, 20, and Jorge Flores Torres, 24, sold cocaine to customers of Fernando Garcia, 30, on numerous occasions last year, often from the apartment the men shared at 2728 8 1/2 St., Assistant U.S. Attorney David Reinhard said.

However, the men were arrested in August after selling to confidential informants and undercover police officers.

In defending Almanza, attorney Anthony Delyea told District Judge Michael Conley that "a lot of drugs were sold, a lot of transactions occurred and money changed hands," but his client barely profited from it.

"(Garcia) didn't pay them, he kept them broke so he could control them, and then he left them holding the bag," said Delyea, who called Garcia the "cheapest drug dealer ever."

The government considers Garcia the "main leader" in the conspiracy and indicted him in September along with Almanza and Torres. However, after being released on bond and then scheduling a plea hearing, Garcia fled.

"His whereabouts remain unknown," Reinhard said Tuesday.

Delyea asked for a two-year sentence for Almanza arguing that as an illegal immigrant Almanza faces certain deportation after completing his sentence, unlikely to re-offend in the U.S. and had no source or customer contacts.

Reinhard agreed that Almanza was basically a "go-fer" for Garcia in a conspiracy that trafficked a "significance quality of drugs in a relatively small community."

Speaking through an interpreter, Almanza apologized to his girlfriend, Samantha, their five-month-old daughter and sought leniency so "I can hold my daughter again, soon."

Almanza also asked that the number 13 tattooed on his arm could be removed saying it means he began smoking marijuana at the age of 13 and not that he belonged to a street gang, although rival gangs could mistake that.

Conley said he was mistaken about the meaning of the tattoo and recommended removal to the Bureau of Prisons.

Almanza, grew up in Mexico, entered the U.S. illegally at age 15 with his mother, who worked here but has since returned.

Almanza had a job in the Monroe area for three years before his employer found out Almanza lied about his age and residency status, said Conley.

After getting laid off, Almanza turned to marijuana and cocaine dealing before authorities found out.

Almanza and Flores both pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in November. Flores' sentencing is set for next month.