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Lubbock man accused of federal drug, firearm charges pleads guilty

Updated: Nov. 8, 2016 at 10:30 AM CST
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Dung Ngoc "Nancy" Tran (Source: Covenant Health)
Dung Ngoc "Nancy" Tran (Source: Covenant Health)
(Source: KCBD)
(Source: KCBD)
(Source: KCBD)
(Source: KCBD)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - According to U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas, Jonathan Lovato, 33, appeared in court Monday and pleaded guilty to federal charges regarding his role in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.

Lovato pleaded guilty to a count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and aiding and abetting, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting. He faces a statutory penalty of not less than five years or more than 40 years in federal prison, as well as a $5 million fine on the drug conviction and not less than five years and up to life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the firearm conviction. Judge D. Gordon Bryant, Jr. ordered a pre-sentence investigation report with a sentencing date to be scheduled after the report's completion.

On March 17 of this year, Lubbock police officers conducted an undercover narcotics purchase from a hotel room in Lubbock and were watching the room to monitor traffic at the location while a search warrant was obtained. During this surveillance, police saw Lovato (the investigation's main target) arrive and begin taking items from the room. Lovato attempted to leave the hotel grounds in his vehicle. When officers tried to detain him, he fled in a silver sedan, evading officers for several blocks at unlawful speeds and against oncoming traffic. The vehicle was stopped when it struck several other oncoming vehicles. One woman in a vehicle Lovato struck, 54-year-old Dung Ngoc "Nancy" Tran, was killed in the accident.

Upon approaching Lovato's sedan, officers discovered he was carrying a pistol in his waistband. A package containing what was later verified as 118.13 grams of methamphetamine was found in the glove box, along with five cell phones throughout the vehicle. Lovato admitted to the firearm possession and to selling methamphetamine.

The case is being investigated by the Lubbock Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Long is heading the prosecution.

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