LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – A Louisville man was sentenced to 34 years in prison after being convicted of federal drug and money laundering charges.
Dante Watts, 34, was charged, along with six codefendants, for his involvement in a major drug trafficking organization responsible for distributing millions of dollars’ worth of narcotics in Louisville between May and July of 2016.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Kentucky, the case arose out of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration wiretap investigation, culminating with the execution of multiple federal search warrants on July 2, 2016. The warrants resulted in the seizure of 31.9 kilograms of cocaine and 4.6 kilograms of heroin in a semi tractor-trailer, and other drugs found in multiple locations, including 375 grams of methamphetamine. Agents also seized over $800,000 cash from the sale of narcotics.
The DEA executed another search warrant at Watts’ residence located on Blackthorn Trace in eastern Jefferson County on July 8, 2016. During the search, federal agents found over 6 kilograms of fentanyl in various locations in the kitchen along with a loaded firearm, several blenders utilized to mix drugs in the kitchen, and multiple boxes of plastic baggies and mixing agents. Agents found an additional firearm in Watts’ attached garage, along with empty kilo wrappers. Agents also located a high-tech surveillance system installed in and around the house, and a money counter was also found.
The DEA investigation revealed that Watts and codefendant Ismael Gonzalez received the narcotics from Mexican suppliers. Multiple intercepted phone conversations between Watts and Gonzalez showed that Gonzalez arranged for the shipment of drugs from the southern U.S. border to Louisville by semi-tractor trailer.
Once the drugs arrived in Louisville, Gonzalez would oversee the transport to Watts, who would then direct distribution on the streets. Watts would then collect the proceeds of drug sales and send cash back to the suppliers through Gonzalez.
“Mr. Watts and his criminal enterprise caused a great deal of harm to people of this community; he was given many chances, and every time he flouted the mercy of the criminal justice system,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Scott, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Louisville Division. “His sentence today is considerable but justified; long delayed justice for a lengthy criminal career.”
From May 2015 through July of 2016, the IRS showed that Watts spent over $4.2 million dollars which included over $3.5 million dollars in cash casino purchases as well as the purchase of real property.
Also, the Court forfeited Watts’ interest in his home on Blackthorn Trace, over $428,000 in cash, over $89,000 seized from an account, 2 loaded firearms, and a gold Breitling for Bentley with 596 diamonds. The DEA previously forfeited over $400,000 in cash seized during the investigation.
Acting U. S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett noted, “The tireless effort and outstanding work of the DEA and IRS agents who investigated the case, as well as the work of their state and local counterparts, ensured a successful prosecution. Our community is safer now as a result of their professionalism and sacrifice. The lengthy prison sentence serves notice of the consequences to those who traffic illegal drugs in the Western District.”
Upon completing his sentence, Watts will also have a life term of supervised release.