Two men plead guilty to cocaine trafficking |

Two men plead guilty to cocaine trafficking

Sheila Gardner

Two Santa Cruz, Calif., men face up to 15 years in prison and $100,000 fines after pleading guilty Monday to trafficking in cocaine.

Joseph Perez, and Oscar Madriz, both 26, pleaded guilty to trafficking after they were arrested more than a year following a monthlong investigation into drug trafficking and distribution from California.

The two were arrested March 2, 2012, in two drug busts at Stateline casinos along with two other men.

Authorities recovered 255 grams of cocaine with a street value of $25,000, a vehicle, firearm and currency.

According to reports, the Tri-NET Narcotic Task Force, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Street Enforcement Team, DCSO investigators and the Santa Cruz Police Department worked together in the arrest.

Madriz also was charged with ex-felon in possession of a firearm after officers recovered a .40-caliber Glock.

The pair originally pleaded not guilty to several charges, and were set for trial April 23.

On Monday, Madriz appearing with attorney Joey Gilbert, and Perez with attorney David Houston, changed their pleas to guilty, and are set for sentencing June 10.

District Judge Michael Gibbons advised the defendants to cooperate with state Parole and Probation in preparing pre-sentence reports.

“As you both heard, there is quite a range in possible sentencing,” Gibbons said. “Make sure you’re doing everything to cooperate, take responsibility for what you did, and move on. Don’t make it any worse than it is.”

The maximum sentence for Madriz could be 21 years in prison; Perez faces up to 15 years.

The minimum is six years on the trafficking charge and 24 months on the weapons offense.

Both men are out on bail.

According to the plea agreement, the defendants are ineligible for probation, and both sides are free to argue at sentencing.

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