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Federal Judge Sends Three to Prison for More than 30 Years in “Operation El Patron”

NOV 12 (LAREDO, Texas) - Three drug and money laundering co-conspirators have been ordered to federal prison following their convictions resulting from a long-term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Enrique Mendez, 42, of Laredo, Carlos Javier Flores Sr., 51, and his son Carlos Javier Flores Jr., 29, both of Zapata, were convicted by a jury late July 30, 2013, following a seven-day trial.

The jury found the three men engaged in a conspiracy to distribute bulk quantities of cocaine from Texas to Georgia and returned drug proceeds to Laredo and into Mexico. 

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo, who presided over the trial, handed all men 405 months in federal prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, Judge Marmolejo noted that the sentences are often harder on a defendant’s family than the defendant himself. 

The trial included more than 20 government witnesses. Mendez was found guilty of drug conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and four substantive counts of laundering U.S. currency in amounts ranging from $200,468 to $999,465. Flores Sr. and Jr. were both found guilty of drug conspiracy, while Flores Sr. was also found guilty of a substantive count of possession of a controlled substance in excess of five kilograms of cocaine. 

They will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

During the course of the investigation that led the convictions, agents seized more than $7.5 million in drug proceeds and more than 450 kilograms of cocaine. Agents also seized a drug ledger that attributes the movement/distribution of approximately 12,500 kilograms of cocaine and $41. 9 million in drug proceeds by these and other co-conspirators. 

To date, 25 other co-conspirators have been convicted and sentenced as part of this investigation. Seven other co-conspirators identified in this investigation are scheduled for sentencing later this year, some of whom will be sentenced tomorrow.   

The charges and resulting convictions are the result of OCDETF operation dubbed Operation El Patron involving Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Agencies who assisted in the arrests and other aspects of the investigation included the Webb County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Border Patrol, Webb County Sheriff’s Office, Laredo Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Graciela Rodriguez Lindberg and Sanjeev Bhasker prosecuted the case. 
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