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Leader of “Texas Syndicate” Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to More Than 25 Years in Prison

MAY 12 (LUBBOCK, Texas) - Cruz Perez, a/k/a “Travieso,” 41, was sentenced today by Senior U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings to 327 months in federal prison for his role in a methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana distribution conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

Perez, a member of the Texas Syndicate pled guilty in February 2017 to one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. Perez has been in custody since his arrest in June 2016.

“Those who choose drug dealing as an occupation take notice,” said USA Parker.“The cost to you of making that choice will be high-- do something else.”

Perez and 12 other west Texas residents, including three other members of the Texas Syndicate, were arrested in early June 2016 by Special Agents with the DEA and the Texas Department of Public Safety, with assistance from the Big Spring, Sundown, and Levelland Police Departments, the Howard County and Lubbock County Sheriff’s Offices, the U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. 

Of the 12 defendants, 11 have received the following sentences for their roles in the conspiracy:

Christopher Lee Gonzalez, aka “Gonzo,” 44, 327 months
Christopher David Gonzales, aka “Chris,” 42, 121 months
Evan Cruz Parson, aka “Evan,” 22, 168 months
Alexander Alfonzo Mendoza, aka “Alex,” 21, 48 months
Jose Gutierrez, III, aka “Baby Joey,” 22, 151 months
Jasmine Pillar Hernandez, aka “Crazy,” 33, 120 months
Crystal Dimas, aka “Babe,” 29, 33 months
Robert Diaz, Jr., aka “Bobby,” 34, 48 months
Adrian Rodriguez, 38, 48 months
Johnny Trevino, Jr., aka “Baby John,” 27, 48 months
Victor Manuel Castillo, aka “Victor Manuel Garza,” 44, will be sentenced later this month.

According to plea documents filed in Perez’s case, on October 3, 2015, Perez distributed and possessed with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. The investigation revealed that late that morning, Perez called Christopher Lee Gonzales and discussed Gonzales obtaining a quantity of methamphetamine from Perez. Perez advised that he’d have his nephew, Jose Gutierrez, III, bring it to Gonzales. At approximately 12:05 p.m., Perez called Gutierrez and told him that he needed to come back to Lamesa, Texas. Perez then texted/called Alexander Mendoza, who stored the methamphetamine for Perez, and instructed Mendoza to bring “the two that were left and the one that you got yesterday” and “also another nine.” At approximately 5:55 p.m., Perez and Gonzales discussed that Gonzales owned Perez approximately $21,000 for past drugs and that Gonzales was having trouble selling Perez’s methamphetamine because other dealers were selling a better quality methamphetamine for a cheaper price. Perez and Gonzales then discussed where to do the drug transaction.

Special Agents with the DEA, who were conducting surveillance in Lamesa, observed a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe, known to be driven by Gutierrez, traveling toward Lubbock. Agents maintained surveillance until approximately 8:35 p.m. when a Texas Highway Patrol trooper stopped Gutierrez in Lubbock and found he was transporting approximately 500 grams of methamphetamine.

That evening, Gutierrez’s wife called Perez and told him that “Joey” texted her at 8:40 p.m., saying that he got “pulled over in Lubbock.” She called Perez and told him that “he went to jail.” When she called Perez at 9:19 p.m. and told him, “he got caught,” Perez asked, “with it-with the stuff?” She responded affirmatively. At approximately 9:11 p.m., Perez called Parson and told him, “Baby Joey went to jail,” referring to Gutierrez being arrested with the methamphetamine. Then, at approximately 9:23 p.m., Perez called Gonzales and told him, “he didn’t make it,” referring to Gutierrez being arrested with the methamphetamine.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the DEA investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Juanita Fielden and Sean Long prosecuted this case.

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