Jury convicts Cuban national of Drug Trafficking, Illegal Firearms

Gavel and Law book

A Raytown, Missouri, man was convicted by a federal jury of drug trafficking and illegally possessing firearms.

Victor Rodriguez Kessel, 63, a Cuban national, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, attempting to manufacture crack cocaine, possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute, possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute, possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The jury also found that Kessel must forfeit his residence to the government.

On July 18, 2017, a federal postal inspector identified a suspicious parcel at the Kansas City, Missouri, Postal Processing and Distribution Center. The 15-ounce parcel was addressed to Kessel’s address but under a different name. The return address in Tucson, Arizona, also did not correctly identify the sender of the parcel. A police canine alerted to the presence of illegal drugs inside the parcel.

Later the same day, law enforcement officers delivered the parcel to Kessel’s residence. Kessel, who had a loaded Glock 10mm pistol in his waistband, told officers he didn’t recognize the name on the parcel. Kessel gave consent to open the parcel, which contained approximately 274.23 grams of powder cocaine. After Kessel gave consent to search his residence, officers found a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver in the bedroom. Officers also found a purse that contained approximately 156.89 grams of powder cocaine. Officers found approximately 5.36 grams of crack cocaine in the living room and kitchen area, and approximately 304.74 grams of marijuana.

After Kessel withdrew his consent, officers obtained a search warrant for Kessel’s residence and additionally found approximately 3.4 grams of powder cocaine, 74 grams of crack cocaine, and 157.6 grams of marijuana. Officers found a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic handgun under the couch in the living room area. Approximately $5,000 was found in a black bag hidden behind the headboard in the master bedroom. 

Officers also found approximately $75,000 in a locked shed in the backyard, which was designed to be a marijuana grow house.

In the course of the investigation, the inspector learned that a parcel containing $10,000 associated with Kessel’s address recently had been mailed to Tucson.

Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Kessel has a prior felony conviction for distributing crack cocaine, four prior felony convictions for burglary, three prior felony convictions for grand theft, and two prior felony convictions for carrying a concealed firearm.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., deliberated for approximately four and a half hours before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge Greg Kays, ending a trial that began Monday, Dec. 2.

Under federal statutes, Kessel is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole.