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Marijuana Kingpin Informer Gets 9 Years, Keeps Millions


October 1995

Ciro Mancuso, leader of an enormous Reno-based marijuana smuggling operation, was sentenced to nine years in prison on June 27 (Rob Haeseler, "Drug Kingpin Mancuso Gets 9 Years," San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 1995, p. A13).

Mancuso's sentence was greatly reduced because of his cooperation with the government in cases against other alleged organization players and Mancuso's lawyer, Patrick Hallinan (see "Defense Attorney Acquitted of Conspiracy Charges," NewsBriefs, April 1995). Over the past five years, Mancuso's help has led to the indictment or conviction of more than 25 people.

Because of his assistance to the government, Mancuso was allowed to remain free until his legal case was resolved and to keep between $2 and $4 million in cash and land that were earned from his trafficking business in Thai marijuana.

Mancuso would have faced more than 60 years in prison if he had not helped the government. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Ronald Davis praised Mancuso, calling him "unusual, exceptional ... [Aid from an informant such as Mancuso is] probably something that every special agent dreams of having."

Mancuso argued at his sentencing hearing that he should be given probation despite his role in the organization. "I felt it was essential to destroy the organization that I had helped to build ... and the organization became extinct," he said. "I'm appalled with myself. I'm going to have to live with that for the rest of my life."