Orlando, Florida – U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Derek Morales-Figueroa (26, Orlando) has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Morales-Figueroa faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, and up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement and other court documents, beginning on September 11, 2020, Morales-Figueroa and a conspirator, Jacob Luis Bonilla-Rivera, engaged in a series of phone calls with individuals they believed being cocaine dealers but who were, in fact, undercover agents working for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). These discussions culminated in an agreement to purchase 20 kilograms of cocaine from Orlando. On September 16, 2020, HSI agents met with Bonilla-Rivera and Juan Omar Rodriguez, Jr. (21, Auburndale) where the conspirators showed HSI agents the $600,000 in cash they had brought to the agreement in a hidden compartment in one of their vehicles. After that, Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez drove to a location where HSI agents had arranged to show them the 20 kilograms of cocaine. Morales-Figueroa participated in the cocaine inspection via videoconference on one of the conspirator’s phones. After inspecting the cocaine, Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez returned to their car to retrieve the cash from the hidden compartment, at which point they were arrested. While searching their vehicles, HSI officers discovered that Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez loaded firearms in their possession into the vehicles they drove to the meeting with a total of $639,325 in cash. In his plea agreement, Morales-Figueroa agreed to forfeit the money seized in connection with that arrest.
On September 17, 2020, Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez were indicted for their roles in the conspiracy. Bonilla-Rivera and Rodriguez both pleaded guilty and were each sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Morales-Figueroa was not located at the time. On March 10, 2021, Morales-Figueroa was identified during a traffic stop in Flagler County but fled from law enforcement. On January 3, 2022, Morales-Figueroa was arrested in Jacksonville in connection with a search of a residence and a seizure of nine kilograms of cocaine.
This matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dana E. Hill.