North Hollywood Man Gets Nine Years in Federal Prison for Smuggling Cocaine in Household Products Shipped to Australia

    A federal judge sentenced  Vardges Markosyan, 47, of North Hollywood, to 108 months in federal prison for smuggling more than 80 pounds of cocaine – concealed and suspended in grease – in household products that were mailed to Australia. Markosyan – aka “David Petrosov,” “Giani Oncho,” and “Laram Narman” – pleaded guilty in November 2019 to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

            Between December 2014 and October 2016, Markosyan was involved in a drug conspiracy that procured approximately 40 kilograms (88.2 pounds) of cocaine and shipped it to Australia. The cocaine was suspended in grease and placed in empty household products such as log splitters, air compressors, tankless water heaters, lampstands, and air conditioners. The wholesale value of this cocaine was at least $7 million in Australia. The shipped packages were sent via commercial carrier to Australia, where the drugs were distributed. Markosyan conducted “test runs” of drug shipment methods by sending packages of household products by commercial carrier to Australia to evaluate whether the drugs could be shipped without detection inside similar packages. For example, in March 2015, a co-conspirator used FedEx to send 9.87 kilograms (21.76 pounds) of cocaine hidden in a log splitter to Australia. In advance of this package, Markosyan sent a similar log splitter in a “test run” to Australia.

            Markosyan also conspired with his sister, Iren Markosyan, 41, of North Hollywood, to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking and fraudulent activity. From May 2014 until January 2019, Markosyan used his sister’s name – with her knowledge – to buy properties in North Hollywood and Studio City. Markosyan and his sister obtained hard-money loans secured against these properties, and spent the net proceeds of these loans after transferring them to various accounts. In December 2018, Markosyan received $234,442 from the sale of the North Hollywood property. Markosyan also obtained, with his sister’s assistance, Medi-Cal benefits by falsely stating that he had no income, according to court documents.

             Markosyan has agreed to forfeit to the U.S. government his interest in the Studio City property, held in his sister’s name, as well as a 1996 Carver 38 boat and a 2005 Caribe boat also held in her name.

            Iren Markosyan pleaded guilty in May 2019 to one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. She will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison at her sentencing hearing later this year.

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