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Man sentenced in meth case; status of old murder charge in question
Jose Luis Pacheco-Rojas.jpg
Jose Luis Pacheco-Rojas

A man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in a drug case, though the status of a lingering murder charge is less clear, according to court documents and officials.

Jose Pacheco-Rojas, 43, was sentenced June 8 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of methamphetamine.

Pacheco-Rojas and three other men were indicted in December 2019 after a $1.8 million drug bust months earlier by the Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad.

MANS officials said they found 15.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, half of a kilogram of black tar heroin, a kilogram of cocaine, 2 pounds of marijuana, 14 handguns, five rifles, a shotgun and $21,500 during the September 2019 investigation at residences on Gaines Mill Road, Cronic Drive, Dixie Drive, Wallace Road and Coker Road.

In a sentencing memo, Pacheco-Rojas’ attorney, Molly Parmer, said her client was born in Mexico, performing “backbreaking work as a goat herder in Mexico” and various migrant jobs in the U.S. including a chicken catcher in Gainesville.

“Ultimately, his poverty and desire to provide for his children pushed him into the drug trade, and he made the terrible decision to enter into the conspiracy for which he is now being sentenced,” according to the attorney’s memo.

Parmer claimed Pacheco-Rojas was not aware of the firearms found concealed in the closet of the Coker Road residence, though he did admit to possessing the pistol under his pillow.

“He used the Coker Road address to provide drugs and had not been staying there for an extended period of time,” according to the memo. “The only evidence in the record that ties Mr. Pacheco-Rojas to the Coker Road address was a single controlled buy and that he was sleeping there when the agents arrested him.”

Parmer wrote in the sentencing memo that Pacheco-Rojas would be deported to Mexico following his prison sentence.

Following Pacheco-Rojas’ arrest, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks said authorities confirmed the man’s identity in connection to an outstanding murder warrant from September 2000 on Highland Road. Wilbanks described the case as an alleged “drug-related killing.”

Jorge Campos Ortega, 34, of Bakersfield, California, was “struck in the head with a board and left in a wooded area, where his body was discovered several days later by a hunter,” Wilbanks wrote in a previous email to The Times.

“Immediately following the murder, Pacheco-Rojas is believed to have fled to Mexico until he resurfaced in the most recent narcotics case,” Wilbanks previously said.

Parmer did not return a request for comment Thursday, June 17.

“Especially due to the age of the case, we’ll have to engage in an extensive review to determine what evidence may still be available to determine whether we can proceed,” Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said in a statement regarding the murder charge.

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