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Cuban national sentenced to federal prison on narcotics and firearms charges

ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando man was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Orlando to 20 years in prison following a joint U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation.

U. S. District Judge Patricia C. Fawsett sentenced Jose Antonio Avila-Almira, 62, to 20 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, possessing with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The court also ordered Avila-Almira to forfeit $1,288, which is traceable to proceeds of the offense. Avila-Almira pleaded guilty to the charges on Aug. 18.

On Dec. 25, 2008, members of the Orange County Sheriff's Office confronted Avila-Almira after learning that he might be in possession of a firearm and narcotics. After he consented to a search, deputies located a loaded semi-automatic pistol in his waistband, 82 baggies of cocaine and heroin, and $1,288 in U. S. currency in his pockets. Avila-Almira is a convicted felon and a Cuban national without legal right to remain in the United States.

Moreover, Avila-Almira's felony record qualifies him as an 'armed career criminal' under federal sentencing statutes.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U. S. Attorney Stephanie Gorman and Assistant U. S. Attorney Robert Bodnar.