Columbia man pleads guilty to $4 million drug-trafficking plot

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 | 5:05 p.m. CDT; updated 8:15 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 22, 2009

COLUMBIA – A Columbia man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to his role in what prosecutors say was a $4 million plot to distribute marijuana in Boone County.

Robert A. Hocks, 28, pleaded guilty to his part in the drug-trafficking scheme, which involved the distribution of at least 100 kilograms of marijuana, according to a release from the office of Matt J. Whitworth, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

The original indictment was filed in March 2007 after Columbia police searched Hocks' apartment. Police discovered about 200 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of an Audi A6 registered to Hocks.

This was one of the largest seizures of marijuana in the history of the Columbia Police Department, according to Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

Authorities said the conspirators were responsible for distributing at least 3,706 pounds of pot, worth more than $4 million. More than $175,000 of that has been seized by the government, Ledford said.

Hocks also confessed to traveling to Massachusetts to purchase high-grade British Columbian marijuana.

By pleading guilty today, Hocks agreed to relinquish to the government up to $4,210,336 in forfeitable assets, the amount derived from the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

Hocks faces a minimum of five years in prison without parole, up to 40 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $2 million. Hocks is now out on a $5,000 bond, Ledford said.

 A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

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