Staring life in federal prison in the face, a Plant City man’s tearful remorse for his crimes led the presiding judge to sentence him to seventeen years behind bars instead.
Telling a story of an early life marred by grinding poverty in Mexico, Saul Velazquez-Bazan’s attorney described his upbringing as one of ten children in a family that was forced to dig through the filth in trash receptacles behind grocery stores in order to stave off starvation. Luxuries his jurors took for granted were unknown in his life, his counsel told the court, pointing out that his client slept on a dirt floor until he was ten and gained access to a proper bed.
Velazquez-Bazan immigrated to the United States as an adult, gaining citizenship and establishing a moderately-successful pallet business as well. But moderate success wasn’t enough, according to prosecutors. That’s when the trafficking of cocaine and methamphetamine began, eventually reaching volumes of product topping $400,000 per month.
Despite the significant cash he earned in the operation, his attorney points out that he did not become wealthy as a result. He provided money to his large extended family, including sending a sizable percentage of his proceeds back to Mexico, according to his counsel.
Those facts, coupled with prosecutors’ admission that Velazquez-Bazan was cooperative and helpful in securing several other guilty pleas from others allegedly involved in the drug ring, swayed U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich. Rather than consigning him to a cage for the rest of his days, Velazquez-Bazan is now slated to emerge from federal custody by age 67.