Virginia Beach VA May 9 2017
An employee of a Virginia Beach Food Lion and one of his friends sold large quantities of cocaine, multiple rifles and a military silencer in the store’s parking lot, according to court documents.
Pedro “Tony” Pabon Jr., 42, of Virginia Beach and Juan “El Gordo” Rivera-Gutierrez, 35, of Norfolk pleaded not guilty Monday to the federal crimes. Both men are set to stand trial July 11 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.
George Holton Yates, Pabon’s attorney, and Kirsten Renee Kmet, Rivera-Gutierrez’s public defender, declined to comment, as did Special Assistant U.S. Attorney John Butler.
The government’s case is based primarily on the men’s dealings with a confidential informant, who is not identified in court documents. The two started selling cocaine to the informant in May 2014 and continued through at least January of this year, the documents said.
They allege Pabon and Rivera-Gutierrez brought the drugs from New York, North Carolina and Florida and sold them in Hampton Roads and in West Virginia.
The documents recount meetings outside an unspecified Food Lion in Virginia Beach where Pabon worked. There, Pabon and Rivera-Gutierrez sold the informant cocaine for between $1,000 and $1,200 an ounce and discussed the best way to resell the drugs.
On multiple occasions, Pabon told the informant the cocaine was pure – or “fire.” Documents said he recommended the informant add cutting agents, like the carpet cleaner Aroma, to increase profits.
Pabon and Rivera-Gutierrez also discussed other aspects of their business with the informant, according to court documents. They repeatedly said they could sell cocaine in kilograms, and Rivera-Gutierrez once sent the informant a photo of a custom motorcycle that he seized from someone who he said was unable to pay. He said he also seized a boat, the documents said.(tncms-asset)11a89006-3429-11e7-b5a9-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
Court documents recall an Oct. 20 scene outside the Food Lion, during which Rivera-Gutierrez sold the informant 2 ounces of cocaine, five firearms, 100-round drum magazines and a military silencer. The drugs cost $2,000 and the guns $5,000.
The Knights Armament QD 5.56-caliber silencer was a “United States Department of Defense asset,” a court document said.
The other weapons included a Saiga shotgun, an Israeli Tavor Sar 5.56-caliber rifle, a DMPS Panther .223-caliber rifle, a Colt M4LE 5.56-caliber rifle and an Olympic MRF AR-15 multicaliber rifle reported stolen last year during a Chesapeake burglary.
“These are not run-of-the-mill firearms,” Butler said in court Monday while arguing for the two men to remain incarcerated until their trial. “These are essentially killing machines.”
In court, the defense attorneys noted that their clients were not the typical defendants the court saw facing drug charges. They said neither man had ever been convicted of a felony. And, they said, both had lengthy work histories. Pabon has worked at Food Lion for about 20 years, and Rivera-Gutierrez works for a shipyard subcontractor, Advanced Integrated Technologies in Norfolk.
Kmet argued that her client was legally allowed to possess most of the weapons – at least if he didn’t know the one was stolen. The only real exception, she said, was the silencer.
Magistrate Judge Douglas Miller ruled Rivera-Gutierrez must remain in custody pending trial but Pabon could be released.
He said Rivera-Gutierrez faced gun charges, while Pabon did not and added it didn’t matter that most of the guns were legal to possess.
“They are a different animal when possessed by a person accused of selling kilogram quantities of cocaine,” Miller said.