Man sentenced to over 13 years in Newport News drug operation

Hilario Rodriguez (Photo: Western Tidewater Regional Jail)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A California man who was part of a large-scale cocaine trafficking operation was sentenced Wednesday.

Fifty-year-old Hilario Rodriguez will serve over 13 years behind bars. He pleaded guilty on April 12.

Court documents say Hilario Rodriguez, along with Daniel Rodriguez, 49, of California; Marvin O’Neal Carter, Sr., 49, of Newport News and Michael Stephen Kuna, 42, of Canada; were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.

Four men charged in large-scale cocaine operation in Newport News

Carter was also charged with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and maintaining a drug involved premises.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, Daniel and Hilario Rodriguez were charged with interstate travel in aid of racketeering.

According to court documents, agents saw a tractor-trailer show up at a garage leased by Carter. With help from Kuna — who stopped traffic and directed the driver — the trailer was off-loaded next to the garage. Agents saw Daniel and Hilario Rodriguez arrive and park in Carter’s garage parking lot.

The four men then allegedly worked together to unload cocaine from hidden compartments underneath the trailer. A short time later, Kuna was reportedly seen loading two large duffel bags with green straps into a vehicle before leaving the area. Law enforcement agents pulled Kuna over and found the two duffel bags, which smelled like wet cash.

Investigators say they could smell money in Newport News drug case

Court paperwork says as Kuna was being detained, agents executed two federal search warrants on the garage and trailer. During the search, investigators found about 54 kilograms of cocaine and 100 bundles of cash in $5,000 to $10,000 stacks were recovered. The search also led to the recovery of a firearm and heroin, in addition to around $42,000 in cash from a safe.