An admitted longtime drug trafficker busted at Los Angeles International Airport with nearly 50 pounds of illegal drugs packaged in vacuum-packed bricks was sentenced Thursday to a decade in federal prison.
Walter Lee Muhammad, 40, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt to serve five years on supervised release after he is set free. He pleaded guilty in October to three federal counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars.
Muhammad was awaiting a flight to North Carolina on May 23, 2018, when Transportation Security Administration officials at LAX discovered the drugs in his two suitcases, according to records filed in Los Angeles federal court.
By his own admission, the Atlanta resident said he had traveled to Los Angeles a day earlier with $400,000 in cash to purchase the narcotics. He told investigators that the money derived from his marijuana business, according to court documents.
He additionally admitted that he had been engaged in drug trafficking since he was a teenager, and had been imprisoned at least twice in the past for selling or possession, prosecutors said.
Agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said they seized more than 41.2 pounds of cocaine, 4.8 pounds of fentanyl and 4.8 ounces of crack packaged in 23 bricks from the defendant’s luggage.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the charges, Muhammad told arresting officers that he works with a partner, but did not want to identity the person. He also refused to disclose from whom or where he had bought the drugs in Los Angeles.
In a letter to the court, read aloud by his attorney, Muhammad said he was responsible for 10 children, including grandchildren and adopted kids.
“My family is my life,” he wrote, adding that he was “very remorseful and regretful” for his actions. “I make no excuses … I’m guilty of transporting drugs.”
Muhammad disputed the number of sealed packages the DEA reported it had seized, claiming that he actually had packed 23 bricks, rather than the 22 initially logged as evidence.
“So where did the 23rd package go — a whole kilogram disappeared?” he wrote. “I just think it’s hypocritical.”
However, Kronstadt said there were no facts to support the allegation — and court documents show that at one point, two bricks were sealed in a single package, making the total 23 bricks seized.
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