News Release
June 18, 2007

Narcotics Distribution Network Dismantled
"Operation Scalebreakers" Busts Laredo to Dallas Drug Pipeline

JUN 18 - Laredo, TX - One of the leaders of a narcotics distribution network operating from Laredo to Dallas has been sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison, without parole, United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced today.

United States District Judge George P. Kazen sentenced Jose Omar Chapa, 26, Dallas, Texas, to 188 months imprisonment for his role as a leader and organizer in a sophisticated narcotics distribution network operating out of Laredo and Dallas, TX.

Chapa, along with his brother, Juan Antonio Chapa, 36, also of Dallas, TX, were responsible for the purchase and subsequent distribution of bulk quantities of marihuana throughout the entire Dallas metropolitan area. The marihuana was shipped to the Chapa brothers by several co-defendants including an individual named Oscar Palacios, 36, of Laredo, who used his company, Consumer Products, and its tractor trailers to transport numerous loads of marihuana to the Chapa brothers. Palacios was responsible for recruiting and paying drivers and ensuring that the marihuana was properly concealed in the tractor trailers in order to avoid detection by law enforcement. Palacios estimated that he had personally orchestrated the transportation of at least 150 loads of marihuana to the Dallas area.

Follow-up investigation by DEA agents identified co-conspirators who were supplying or arranging to supply Palacios with the marihuana. One of these co-conspirators was Humberto Garcia a.k.a. Beto Garcia, who was convicted by jury on all counts following a four day trial in May 2006 and is serving a 30 year prison term for his role in this narcotics distribution network Other co-Defendants involved in various capacities included Fidel Torres, Erick Madrigal, and Jose Arturo Vergara. Judge Kazen sentenced Jose Omar’s brother, Juan Antonio Chapa to 175 months imprisonment. Oscar Palacios and Fidel Torres are each serving a 220 month prison sentence. Erick Madrigal and Jose Arturo Vergara were sentenced to 90 and 30 months in prison, respectively.

The case was part of an on-going investigation which included the prosecution of at least 12 other individuals in Laredo, Texas as part of a Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case dubbed “Operation Scalebreakers” This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Marina Garcia Marmolejo.