JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - Daniel Robert, 43, of Meridian, was found guilty this week by a federal jury on charges of trafficking cocaine, after being a fugitive for over a decade.
Robert was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and one count of attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
In a news release, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Jackson called Robert a "major drug dealer".
“Criminals can run, but they cannot hide, as the long arm of the law will always grab them wherever they are and bring them to justice. I applaud our men and women in law enforcement for their tenacity and fortitude in ensuring this drug dealer is taken off our streets and sent to prison where he belongs,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.
The government says from 2007 through 2009, Robert was being investigated by the FBI along with several other people. The FBI’s investigation showed that Robert directed the sale of multiple kilograms of cocaine and took in tens of thousands of dollars. Officials say Robert organized the transport of cocaine from Houston, Tex., and sold the narcotics in Lauderdale County, Miss. The government says Robert’s criminal organization involved numerous people and utilized vehicles with custom built hidden compartments for transportation of drugs and money.
The U.S. attorney said an undercover operation specifically showed that Robert received $16,000 in exchange for over a kilogram of cocaine. Robert used two different people, who were both charged as co-conspirators, to receive money and distribute cocaine.
On June 26, 2009, Robert, along with another co-conspirator, were stopped in Vidor, Tex., driving a truck with a hidden compartment containing almost 8 kilograms of cocaine. Robert was released from custody there and came back to Mississippi. With the help of his girlfriend, Robert attempted to reclaim his cocaine, which he believed had not been discovered in the hidden compartment.
Robert believed his girlfriend was arranging to purchase the truck from insurance adjusters who had taken possession of the truck on the basis that it was reported stolen. The insurance adjusters were actually undercover FBI agents with the consent of the insurance company that actually owned the truck. Video recordings and pictures were taken of Robert and his girlfriend when they came to the insurance 'sale'. After 'purchasing' the truck, Robert returned to Meridian, and attempted to recover the cocaine he thought was still inside the hidden compartment.
According to the news release, FBI and SWAT officers swarmed the location and arrested most of the organization, but Robert was able to get away. Robert remained at large for a decade before he was taken into custody by the FBI.
Robert has an additional pending charge for witness tampering in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. He also faces charges in Illinois for narcotics distribution and witness tampering.
Robert was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 3, 2009. He is currently in custody and will be sentenced on May 1, 2020, by Judge Jordan. Robert faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Erin O. Chalk and Chet Kirkham.