Just past noon on Dec. 19, 1993, Jeff Mizanskey rolled his red Pontiac Firebird to a stop next to a long, low Mercury Cougar in the parking lot of a Super 8 motel in Sedalia, Missouri. Mizanskey, then a lean, mustachioed 39-year-old, hopped out and took a quick look at the back of the Cougar. Its license plate was from New Mexico, 600 miles away. Then he went around to the car’s front and checked out the windshield, on which lay a newspaper with the number “219” written on it. Mizanskey got back in his Firebird and drove off. He returned a few minutes later, this time with a guy named Atilano Quintana riding next to him. The two men parked the car. Then they knocked on the door of Room 219.
Two men, Hosea Reyes and Jorge Ibuado, were waiting inside. Ibuado opened the door and let Quintana and Mizanskey in. Quintana spoke with them in Spanish while Mizanskey sat on a desk chair, watching; occasionally Quintana would break off to speak with him in English. After a few minutes, according to court documents, Ibuado opened a zippered bag and took out a wrapped parcel about the size of a brick. It contained several pounds of marijuana. He handed it to Quintana, who handed it to Mizanskey. “About three or four,” said Mizanskey, hefting it.
There’s no mention in court documents of any money changing hands, but Quintana slipped the parcel under his jacket, and he and Mizanskey headed back out to the parking lot. Mizanskey was just opening his car door when a voice yelled, “Freeze!” Cops came rushing from all directions, guns drawn. Quintana dropped the packet and kicked it away, but it was too late for that.