Laredo Police Officer and Co-Conspirator Plead Guilty to
FEB 18 -- (LAREDO, Texas) – A Laredo Police Department (LPD) officer and a local man have pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, Special Agent in Charge Zoran B. Yankovich and United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
Pedro Martinez III, 32, and Guillermo Villarreal, 34, both of Laredo, Texas, each pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging them with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine before U.S. Senior District Court Judge George P. Kazen at a hearing this morning. Martinez has been ordered released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing and a decision on Villarreal’s release on bond is pending. Martinez and Villarreal each face a mandatory minimum of 10 years with a maximum of life in prison, a fine of up to $4 million and no less than a five-year-term of supervised release. No date has yet been set for sentencing.
Martinez and Villarreal each appeared voluntarily in federal court today, entered pleas of guilty to the one-count criminal information, waived presentation of the matter to a grand jury and their respective rights to trial. Martinez admitted to meeting with a drug dealer, who was actually an FBI undercover officer, and agreeing to escort two carloads of cocaine through Laredo. On Oct. 15, 2008, and again on Nov. 13, 2008, Martinez escorted vehicles from south Zapata Highway to north Laredo believing on each occasion that the vehicle contained approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine. For the Oct. 15 escort, Martinez was on duty in police uniform and driving a marked LPD patrol unit, but during the Nov. 13 escort, Martinez drove his own vehicle and was not on duty. Martinez was paid $1,000 by the undercover officer for each trip he escorted. The vehicles actually did not contain real cocaine, but instead carried a “sham” load.
Additionally, in an effort to facilitate co-defendant Guillermo Villarreal’s cocaine trafficking operation, Martinez introduced Villarreal to another person who resided near Villarreal to discuss the use of a storage facility at the other’s residence to store cocaine. Villarreal sought to and did store cocaine at this person’s residence. On two separate occasions - Dec. 2, 2008, and again on Feb. 5, 2009 - Villarreal sold approximately a quarter kilogram of cocaine for $4,000 to an unidentified government source. Each sale occurred in the vicinity of Villarreal’s residence. The cocaine was retrieved each time from the storage facility at the nearby residence.
On Sept. 2, 2009, federal agents executed a search warrant at the storage facility of the nearby residence from which Villarreal retrieved the cocaine. Agents discovered and seized approximately three kilograms of cocaine, a metal press used to press cocaine into kilogram-size bricks, scales, a blender and plastic wrap.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Immigration and Customs Enforcement with the assistance and cooperation of the Laredo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Samuel Sheldon, Roberto F. Ramirez and James McAlister are prosecuting the case.