An Atlanta woman who checked her son out of high school to come to Chattanooga to interpret for her on a major drug deal was sentenced Thursday to serve 10 years and one month in federal prison.
Leticia Gonzalez was sentenced by Judge Curtis Collier, who said her punishment would have been much more harsh had she not cooperated with authorities. She testified when two co-defendants went to trial.
Ms. Gonzalez, 53, is also due to face deportation when she finishes her sentence.
A DEA agent said Ms. Gonzalez did not know she was dealing with an undercover agent in drug negotiations at Cracker Barrels at East Ridge and Lookout Valley. When she was arrested she had $75,000 in cash for a large cocaine purchase. Judge Collier said that was "more money than most people make in a year."
In another planned drug deal, she was discussing the purchase of $250,000 in illegal drugs.
The agent said a raid at her home at Conyers, Ga., also turned up three kilos of pure meth in a shed. Her attorney, Hannah Stokes, said Ms. Gonzalez denies that the meth was hers. She said Ms. Gonzalez got into the drug activity because her older son was arrested for dealing in meth, leaving her with a large debt to drug lords. The agent acknowledged that he was shown texts threatening her.
A man at the house was described as a "mule" in the operation, who had made a number of trips to pick up drugs, including bringing back meth from Texas in tubular containers hidden with wicker furniture.
The agent said her younger son said he planned to go into the drug business also, and he was looking for a marijuana supplier.
Inside the Gonzalez home were two digital scales and an electronic money counter in addition to other evidence of drug activity.
Judge Collier termed her "a pretty high-level drug trafficker."