A Fresno man who escaped from Fresno County Jail custody while awaiting federal trial on drug charges was sentenced Monday to six years and six months in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
Thanousone Volarat, 36, was convicted of conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana, money laundering and the jail escape. Co-defendants Phonephitack Volarat and Adam Khamvongsay were previously sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in the conspiracy.
According to court documents, the drug ring grew and distributed marijuana for profit under the guise of medicinal marijuana. Between October 2010 and July 2011, the ring shipped 11 packages of marijuana grown in Fresno and Madera counties primarily to addresses in Connecticut. The marijuana packages were seized by agents. Thanousone Volarat and the others also set up an elaborate financing scheme that handled about $3 million.
While in jail pending trial, Volarat was taken to a Fresno medical facility to receive out-patient treatment. While there, he was permitted to use a restroom, where he slipped off his handcuffs, unlocked a back door and fled. He remained out of custody for nearly a month until he was recaptured in Los Angeles County.