CORPUS CHRISTI, TX– Jose Antonio Ortiz Jr. of Corpus Christi, 32, has been found guilty for his involvement in a methamphetamine conspiracy, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Thomas E. Hinojosa and United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The verdict was returned just minutes ago after four days of trial and approximately 2 ½ hours of deliberation before Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head.
Ortiz was charged by criminal complaint in July 2010 along with Juan Luis Chavez for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 851.4 grams of methamphetamine. The indictment, returned Aug. 11, 2010, was superseded twice to include defendants Jason Wilson, Tracy Chaffin, John Gomez and Veronica Munguia who, along with Chavez, all subsequently pleaded guilty and are pending sentencing before U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey.
Evidence at trial demonstrated that in March 2010, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) agents received information that a shipment of methamphetamine would be arriving in Corpus Christi and that the drugs were destined for delivery to Gomez and Ortiz. DPS agents and officers of the Corpus Christi Police Department (CCPD) conducted a search of a residence known to be utilized by Gomez and Munguia on March 10, 2010, and found a large amount of methamphetamine in addition to smaller amounts of cocaine and marijuana. Both Chavez and Ortiz were present during the search of this residence and were arrested for state drug violations. Shortly thereafter, DPS contacted the DEA.
Prior to the March 10 arrest, DEA agents had uncovered a methamphetamine distribution network operated by Wilson and whose source of supply for the drugs was Ortiz. Agents had seized 112.2 grams of methamphetamine in an undercover operation involving Ortiz, Chavez, Wilson and Chaffin on Feb. 24, 2010.
The jury heard that Ortiz solicited Chavez to transport illegal drugs from Weslaco, Texas, to Corpus Christi, Texas, for $1500, on at least one occasion. Ortiz was the individual who directed Chavez in all aspects of this particular transportation and it was Ortiz who formulated the plan to outfit Chavez’s van with a hidden compartment.
At the trial, all five co-defendants and another cooperating individual testified that Ortiz was a leader of this methamphetamine conspiracy. Additionally, telephone records were introduced which confirmed that Wilson and Ortiz were in contact with each other during the period of this conspiracy from February 2010 to July 2010.
In total, the jury found that Ortiz was responsible for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 963.6 grams of methamphetamine. He is in custody pending a sentencing hearing set for Jan. 12, 2012, before Judge Head, at which time he faces a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison as well as an $8 million fine.
The case was jointly investigated by DPS, DEA and the CCPD and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Hess and Julie K. Hampton.