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Two South Texas Men Arrested for Conspiracy to Traffic Marijuana and Money Laundering

DEC 02 (CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) - Two Pharr men have been arrested in a marijuana trafficking and money laundering conspiracy following an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

John Robledo aka John Robledo Jr. or Bernardo Gutierrez Perez or Sergio Pelayo-Romero or Frankie Robledo, 58, and Remigio Villarreal aka Remi, 55, both of Pharr.

The two-count sealed indictment was returned Nov. 19, 2014, in Corpus Christi and unsealed today upon their arrests in South Texas. They are expected to make their initial appearances before a U.S. magistrate judge in McAllen tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. At that time, the U.S. expects to request they remain in custody pending further criminal proceedings.

Robledo and Villarreal are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana and face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison, upon conviction. They are also charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. If convicted of that charge, they face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.    

Also included in the indictment is a notice to both defendants of the government’s intent to criminally forfeit five different bank accounts held at Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase as well as a real property located in Pharr. The government also intends to seek personal money judgments in the amount of $500,000 as to both defendants. 

The charges are the result of an OCDETF investigation dubbed “Operation Smuggled Gringo.” It was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Homeland Security Investigations; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; police departments in Mission, McAllen and Pharr; U.S. Border Patrol; Customs and Border Protection; and the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie K. Hampton is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

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