For Immediate Release
Raytown Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Drug Trafficking, Illegal Firearms
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Raytown, Missouri, man was sentenced in federal court today for drug trafficking and illegally possessing firearms.
Victor Rodriguez Kessel, 65, a Cuban national, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to 15 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Kessel to forfeit to the government $82,213 that was seized by law enforcement and his residential property, which he maintained for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing illegal drugs.
On Dec. 5, 2019, Kessel was found guilty at trial of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, attempting to manufacture crack cocaine, possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute, possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute, possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
At the time of his arrest, Kessel possessed three firearms, 62.21 grams of crack cocaine, 404.44 grams of cocaine, 456.8 grams of marijuana, and $82,213 (an additional $10,000 had been interdicted by postal inspectors and seized prior to his arrest).
On July 18, 2017, a federal postal inspector identified a suspicious parcel at the Kansas City, Missouri, Postal Processing and Distribution Center. The 15-ounce parcel was addressed to Kessel’s address, but under a different name. The return address in Tucson, Arizona, also did not correctly identify the sender of the parcel. A police canine alerted to the presence of illegal drugs inside the parcel.
Later the same day, law enforcement officers delivered the parcel to Kessel’s residence. Kessel, who had a loaded Glock 10mm pistol in his waistband, told officers he didn’t recognize the name on the parcel. Kessel gave consent to open the parcel, which contained approximately 274.23 grams of powder cocaine. After Kessel gave consent to search his residence, officers found a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver in the bedroom. Officers also found a purse that contained approximately 156.89 grams of powder cocaine. Officers found approximately 5.36 grams of crack cocaine in the living room and kitchen area, and approximately 304.74 grams of marijuana.
After Kessel withdrew his consent, officers obtained a search warrant for Kessel’s residence and additionally found approximately 3.4 grams of powder cocaine, 74 grams of crack cocaine, and 157.6 grams of marijuana. Officers found a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic handgun under the couch in the living room area. Approximately $5,000 was found in a black bag hidden behind the headboard in the master bedroom.
Officers also found approximately $75,000 in a locked shed in the backyard, which was designed to be a marijuana grow house.
In the course of the investigation, the inspector learned that a parcel containing $10,000 associated with Kessel’s address recently had been mailed to Tucson.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Kessel has nine prior felony convictions, including a prior federal conviction for distributing crack cocaine, for which he served 14 years and 10 months in federal prison. That offense involved the sale of crack cocaine on six separate occasions and the recovery of four firearms and approximately 848.91 grams of crack cocaine following a search of his home. Kessel also has three prior felony convictions for burglary, three prior felony convictions for grand theft, and two prior felony convictions for carrying a concealed firearm.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brad K. Kavanaugh and Sean T. Foley. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.