Four Area Residents Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms for Drug Trafficking
DEC 3 -- (McALLEN, Texas) – Four convicted drug traffickers have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their roles in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute more than 200 kilograms of cocaine, Special Agent in Charge Zoran B. Yankovich and United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
Mariano Alvarez, 44, of Rio Grande City, Texas, and Eden Flores Sr., 48, of Mission and Palmview, Texas, both received lifetime terms for the conspiracy and possession charges in addition to a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment, to be served concurrently, for laundering millions of dollars of drug proceeds. The sentences were imposed by U.S. District Judge Randy Crane at a hearing held late yesterday in federal court in McAllen. Alavarez and Flores were each also assessed $1 million fines. All four defendants were convicted by a jury’s verdict after a July 2009 trial.
Guadalupe Hernandez, 45, of Mission, received a sentence of 30 years imprisonment for his role in the conspiracy and the possession with intent to distribute cocaine to be followed by a lifetime term of supervised release. His brother, Abraham Hernandez, 43, also of Mission, received 21 years in prison for his convictions on counts one and six of the indictment. His term of supervised release is five years for each count of conviction, to be served consecutively.
During the nine-day trial, the jury learned that these defendants used hollowed out medical oxygen tanks to transport cocaine from Alvarez Road in Rio Grande City to the McAllen-Mission area. The modified medical oxygen tanks were transported in commercial vehicles that were specifically designed to transport hazardous materials. Two of the tanks, which were seized, contained a total of 217 kilograms of cocaine.
All of the defendants are presently in federal custody and will remain in federal custody pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future where they will serve their sentences.
The investigation leading to the arrest and federal charges of Alvarez, Flores and the Hernandez brothers was conducted by agents of Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division, FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Texas Department of Public Safety, police departments in Mission, Weslaco and Pharr along with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and the Central South Texas Narcotics Task Force.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia Cook Profit, Jesse Salazar and Casey MacDonald.