YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Sentencing will be Dec. 5 for a man accused of taking cocaine from Puerto Rico to sell in Youngstown.

John Pena-Vazquez, no age or address listed, pleaded guilty Tuesday in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio before U.S. Judge Dan Aaron Polster to a single charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

He was indicted June 23, 2022, along with eight other people. He is the third defendant in the case to plead guilty.

The nine are accused of bringing in cocaine from Puerto Rico and selling it in the Youngstown area between April 2020 and December 2021.

The indictment in the case said Pena-Vaqzquez was getting cocaine from two people in Puerto Rico and bringing it in himself. He, in turn, gave that cocaine to two people to sell in Youngstown.

The indictment lists 33 separate telephone conversations between the members of the drug ring and a confidential source discussing drug transactions. It also details members mailing large amounts of cash, $82,000 in one case and $116,000 in another, to buy cocaine.

One of the defendants also had six guns at one point in the investigation, according to the indictment.

In one of the tapped conversations, Pena-Vazquez tells the confidential source he is wary of being arrested, and he also complains about the odor of all the cocaine he is lugging around.
“It stinks,” he told the source. “It smells real bad.”

The indictment said an ounce of cocaine typically sold for $1,050.