MEDFORD, OREGON — Victor Manuel Chavez, 40, of Medford, Oregon, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison by Senior U.S. District Judge Owen M. Panner, after Chavez pleaded guilty in March 2014 to theft from interstate shipment and money laundering. As part of his sentence, Chavez was fined $25,000, will serve three years of post-prison supervised release, and must pay restitution to victims of the theft.
Chavez was employed by Federal Express for four years as a driver and was responsible for unloading FedEx packages from aircraft at the Medford, Oregon, airport and delivering them to their ultimate destinations. In 2011 and 2012 Chavez engaged in a scheme by identifying packages he believed contained large quantities of cash — suspected by law enforcement to be the proceeds of marijuana sales — as well as electronic equipment, jewelry and other valuable items. Once identified, Chavez reprinted FedEx labels, re-routing the targeted packages to his truck, enabling him to steal the packages. Chavez sold stolen electronics and other items to his friends and associates.
On January 30, 2012, law enforcement served a search warrant at Chavez’s residence and seized evidence, which included rolls of FedEx adhesive labels and several items of merchandise that matched items reported missing by FedEx customers. Law enforcement also searched a suitcase Chavez had given to a friend to hold in return for $10,000. Inside the suitcase was $250,000 in cash. Law enforcement believe that most if not all of this money was the proceeds of marijuana sales by Oregon growers who use Federal Express and other delivery service companies to send Oregon-grown marijuana to out-of-state customers in return for cash payments sent back to them via the same companies. Subsequent investigation revealed that Chavez had used some of the stolen money to pay his mortgage, and laundered other proceeds through bank accounts he controlled. In total, law enforcement officials believe that Chavez stole more than $200,000 in cash and property.
The $263,525 in U.S. currency seized from Chavez has been forfeited. Additionally, forfeited items include laptops, tablets, smart phones and other electronic items and sports equipment.
“People like Mr. Chavez who abuse their position of trust to steal, will be caught and prosecuted,” stated U.S. Attorney S. Amanda Marshall.
This case was investigated by the Medford Police Department and the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Harper.