District Court Judge Colin S. Bruce Monday sentenced 41-year-old Valeriano J., aka 'Billy,' Zarate (zah-RAH-te) of Cissna Park to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute. Following release from prison, Zarate was ordered to remain on supervised release for 10 years.
Zarate has been detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest on October 9, 2014. Zarate entered a plea of guilty on April 17 (2015) to conspiring with others from 2012 to October 2014 to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. Zarate admitted that he and others conspired to have large quantities of cocaine driven in semi-tractor trailers from outside Illinois to pre-arranged locations in Vermilion County as well as near Indianapolis, and other locations.
According to court documents, overt acts to further the conspiracy included distribution by Zarate on Dec. 8, 2013, of approximately 11 kilograms of cocaine to an individual in Youngstown, Ohio; on Dec. 12, 2013, travel by Zarate with a co-conspirator to Columbus, Ohio to receive approximately $1.2 million in payment for 36 kilograms of cocaine previously distributed by the conspirators; and, in June 2014, co-conspirators drove a semi-tractor trailer from Texas to Vermilion County, Ill., loaded with approximately 49 kilograms of cocaine, hidden in a load of mangos, to deliver to Zarate and others at a location arranged by Zarate. According to DEA agents, the verified 49 kilogram "bricks" of cocaine hidden in the tractor-trailer were valued at more than $1,000,000 wholesale, with a street value of more than $4,000,000.
The case against Zarate was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller.