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Plano man gets 7 years in grocery store drug ring

Updated: November 21, 2012 5:11PM

CHICAGO — A Plano man has been sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for running a cocaine ring out of his grocery store in downtown Plano.

Last week, Mario Melendez was sentenced to 87 months in prison for buying between 45 and 50 kilograms of cocaine between 2000 and 2009. According to court records, Melendez will have to serve three years probation after he is released.

In 2009, Melendez, his brother Abel Cadena-Martinez, and two other men were charged with drug conspiracy for buying wholesale amounts of cocaine at Little Marketa General Store at 20 W. South St. in Plano. They were caught in a federal drug investigation called “Operation Dos Hermanos” — Spanish for “two brothers” — which targeted drug sales moving through Kendall County.

According to prosecutors, between August 2008 and February 2009, federal investigators were watching the store and listening to phone calls from the brothers who were using the store to meet with other drug distributors. The brothers, along with Lazaro “Marbles” Medina of Villa Park, and Jesus Corral of West Jones Street in Plano, were all charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Federal investigators recovered 10 kilograms of cocaine, four weapons and “substantial” amounts of cash during the investigation.

In a statement that accompanied his guilty plea, Melendez admitted that beginning in 2001, he bought a quarter-kilogram of cocaine every month for six months from Medina. After six months, Melendez began buying a half-kilogram of cocaine every month. Then between 2002 or 2003 and 2006, Melendez was buying a kilogram of cocaine every six to eight weeks. Melendez made at least $35,000 during the course of the drug conspiracy, according to the plea agreement. According to court documents, Melendez had no prior criminal history.

Medina and Corral both pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Medina was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Medina filed an appeal of his sentence.

Corral pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to deliver. He faces at least five years in prison and is scheduled to be in court in January.

According to court records, Cadena-Martinez is scheduled to be in court on Dec. 19. His case is still pending.

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