Six Arrested in Multiple Drug/Firearms Indictments
APR 04 ( LAREDO, Texas) – Three separate indictments have been partially unsealed following the arrest of six Laredo residents on a variety of charges including methamphetamine and/or cocaine trafficking and felon in possession of a firearm, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple and United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
A grand jury returned three sealed indictments on Feb. 18, 2014. The first alleges that a drug trafficking organization had been transporting 50 grams or more of methamphetamine since January 2013. The organization allegedly coordinated the transportation, delivery and distribution of multi-ounce quantities of methamphetamine and heroin to San Antonio. Transporters for the organization allegedly concealed the drug by taping it to their bodies or hiding it within a vehicle. Personal use amounts of the drugs were distributed in the greater-Laredo area, according to the charges. Santos Arturo Ortiz, 27, Kenneth John Swisher, 56, Armando Bautista Jr., 28, and Alan Salinas, 27, all of Laredo, were arrested today for their alleged roles in that conspiracy.
Also taken into custody today was Agustin Zuniga, 37, of Laredo. He is charged in the second partially unsealed indictment with conspiracy and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.
The third indictment unsealed today alleges Jose Casarez, 33, of Laredo, was a felon in possession of a firearm.
Four of the six arrested today are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga, at which time the government expects to request their detention pending further criminal proceedings. Ortiz and Bautista were taken into custody in San Antonio and Dallas, respectively. They will make initial appearances there and are expected to be transported to Laredo in the near future.
For the methamphetamine conspiracy, Ortiz, Swisher, Bautista and Salinas face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison and a possible $10 million fine. Zuniga faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $1 million fine, if convicted of the charge he faces, while Cesarez will face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, upon conviction.
The cases are the result of an investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Rabe is prosecuting.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.