Four Plead Guilty to Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering
McALLEN, Texas - Four Texas men have pleaded guilty for their roles in a large scale drug trafficking organization operating out of Starr County, Texas, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña announced today. The guilty pleas are a result of a November 1, 2011, indictment against 26 men alleging conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana as well as substantive counts of drug trafficking and money laundering.
Today, Lauro Arturo Treviño Sr., 60, a legal permanent resident alien residing in Roma, Texas, Francisco Javier Treviño, 29, a legal permanent resident alien residing in Mission, Texas, Guadalupe Garcia, 53, of Houston, and Roberto Lee Coronado, 32, of Edinburg, Texas, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Micaela Alvarez to possession with the intent to distribute kilogram quantities of marijuana. Garcia and Treviño also pleaded guilty to money laundering.
In June 2009, federal agents began investigating the organization which revealed that large loads of marijuana were being importing from Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Once the marijuana was in the United States, the organization stored it in various stash houses in Roma, Mission and Edinburg before transporting it to Houston. During the course of the investigation, agents seized 11 loads of marijuana weighing approximately 4,700 kilograms (five tons) and seized approximately $120,000 in drug proceeds.
On August 9, 2010, agents learned that Garcia was going to pick up a load of marijuana in South Houston. Agents witnessed him turn over his pickup truck to two men whom the agents subsequently followed to a warehouse. After leaving, an officer conducted a traffic stop and found and seized approximately 400 kilograms of marijuana. Garcia also pleaded guilty for his role in picking up money after the drugs were sold and delivering it to other individuals who transported the money from Houston to the Rio Grande Valley.
Coronado pleaded guilty in relation to an incident from March 22, 2010. On that date, agents followed a vehicle loaded with marijuana from Roma to Mission where it was turned over to Coronado. After taking possession of the vehicle, he realized that law enforcement agents were following him and in turn abandoned the vehicle and fled. During a search of the vehicle agents found and seized approximately 285 kilograms of marijuana.
Agents also conducted an operation in July 2011 that led to the seizure of approximately 818 kilograms of marijuana. Treviño and Treviño Sr. were convicted for their roles in coordinating the transportation of that marijuana from Starr County to Houston. Treviño also pleaded guilty for a June 2, 2010, incident in Wharton County in which a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, conducting a traffic stop, found and seized $61,000 in drug proceeds in a tractor-trailer driven by Treviño.
All four defendants are in custody where they will remain pending sentencing scheduled before United States District Court Judge Micaela Alvarez on April 18, 2012. At that time, Coronado, Garcia and Treviño Sr. face a minimum of five and up to 40 years in prison in addition to a $5 million fine, while Treviño faces a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment and up to life and a $10 million fine for their respective drug trafficking charges. Garcia and Treviño could also receive an additional 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $500,000 (or twice the value of the property involved - whichever is greater) for their convictions of money laundering.
The charges against the remaining 22 defendants in this case are still pending. They are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law. Of those, 12 are currently in custody while two others have been released on bond pending further criminal proceedings. The remaining eight defendants, Jesus Eden Landa-Gomez, 38, Felix Landa-Gomez, 40, both of Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, Mexico; Luis Rios-Garza, 23, of Mission; Ismael Garcia-Gonzalez, 43, and Luis Antonio Ramirez, 24, of Roma; Juan Garza, a Mexican citizen last known to reside in Houston; Raul Rosillo, 59, of Alton; and Walter Jorge Araiza-Rivera, 29, a Mexican citizen residing in Edinburg, are fugitives and a warrant remains outstanding for their arrests. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to contact Drug Enforcement Administration at 956-992-8400.
Thia Organized Crime Drug Task Force Investigation dubbed Operation Dirty Dozen was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Anibal J. Alaniz is prosecuting the case.