A Morristown-based mechanic and car washer, who tripled as a crystal-meth dealer at two Mosheim car lots – fronts for a drug-trafficking enterprise - was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Friday, according to federal court documents.
Luis Rey Maldonado “Tamal” Patino, 34, has been in custody since November 2018, which would put his release date somewhere around July 2020. Patino, who will be deported after he’s completed his sentence, could shorten his prison term by about a year by completing a 500-hour substance-abuse program.
Patino worked for a U.S. citizen named Juan Moreno Pantiga, 31, who owned car lots on Andrew Johnson Highway in Mosheim. Pantiga, 31, has pleaded guilty to distributing crystal and money laundering, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 24.
“(Patino) now admits that one of the functions of the used car business was to shield the organization’s drug trafficking activity and launder the drug trafficking proceeds … The drug proceeds were reinvested in the unlawful activity,” the plea agreement states.
“For example, the defendant was paid with drug proceeds; drug proceeds were used to obtain more methamphetamine; and drug proceeds were used to obtain and maintain a stash house and security for the stash house,” the plea agreement further states.
In July 2018, when law enforcement officials executed a search warrants at Pantiga’s car lot and a trailer on Old Baileyton Road in Afton that served as a stash house, they confiscated 3.6 kilograms of crystal meth – nearly 8 pounds – a pound of cocaine, 92 pounds of marijuana and nearly $30,000 in cash, according to Pantiga’s plea agreement.
Also on Friday, a Hamblen County-based crystal meth dealer named Dustin Joel Rickard arrived at a 10-year federal prison term by another route. Rickard, 32, pleaded guilty earlier to distributing more than 5 grams of crystal meth and possession of a firearm, a Taurus 45-caliber pistol, during a drug trafficking offense.
Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigators executed two search warrants at Rickard’s Sulphur Springs Road residence.
In December 2018, they confiscated 6.8 grams of crystal meth and $2,577 in suspected drug-sales proceeds. They returned six months later and got the firearm, 19 grams of meth and $744 in cash.