LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Reseda carpet salesman was sentenced today to 10 years behind bars for possessing large quantities of raw opium and heroin for sale.
Ebrahim Kalatehe, 49, pleaded guilty a year ago to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 11 pounds of opium, and possession with intent to distribute over two pounds of heroin.
In a written plea agreement, Kalatehe admitted that in July and August 2019, he possessed more than 15 additional pounds of opium, as well as drug paraphernalia.
A defense attorney wrote that Kalatehe, who is of Iranian descent, has been addicted to opium most of his life.
“While cultural considerations may mitigate the sentence imposed ... defendant is not attempting to excuse his behavior,'' attorney Garrett J. Zelen wrote in documents filed in Los Angeles federal court. “Opium and its consumption are part of the medicinal and societal norms of much of the Persian culture.''
Kalatehe was arrested in August 2019 after a co-conspirator told a person believed to be a drug customer -- who was in fact an undercover law enforcement agent -- that he had a friend who could supply good-quality opium at $20,000 for 2.2 pounds of the drug. The co-conspirator agreed to sell the agent 11 pounds of opium for $100,000.
On August 8, 2019, the co-conspirator met with Kalatehe at his apartment on Gault Street in Reseda in order to help execute the opium transaction. As he was driving towards the location of the planned transaction, possessing more than four pounds of opium, the co-conspirator was stopped by law enforcement.
Shortly thereafter, Kalatehe drove to the same location possessing the remaining 6.3 pounds of opium of the 11 pounds planned for sale. Later that day, detectives executed a search warrant at the defendant's apartment and recovered heroin, opium and drug paraphernalia.
According to court papers, Kalatehe has two prior drug convictions -- at least one of which included heroin -- and a conviction for evading a police officer.
Zelen asked for a sentence of home confinement or, if that was denied, a prison term of no longer than eight years.
Kalatehe “has not sought to make his livelihood nor fortune in the drug trade -- he in fact is a carpet wholesaler/retailer -- but rather to find a method to support his drug addiction,'' the attorney wrote.
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