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Laredo Resident Sentenced for Distributing Controlled Substances Near School

JAN 28 (LAREDO, Texas) - Romeo Serna Sr., 52, has been ordered to federal prison following his convictions on multiple conspiracies related to the distribution of narcotics within 1,000 feet of school, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Serna pleaded guilty June 17, 2013, to multiple conspiracies to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana as well as multiple counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances within 1,000 feet of school.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia-Marmolejo handed the Laredo resident a total sentence of 84 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by six years of supervised release. In upwardly departing as she imposed the sentence, the court noted Serna’s under-represented criminal history, his aggravating role in the conspiracy and the proximity of his house to the school, which was less than 1000 yards away. The court also ordered Serna’s residence be forfeited to the government having found it was used to further the criminal activity.

The government presented testimony from the case agent and the undercover agent who testified they received information in March 2012 that drugs were being sold from the Serna residence on Bartlett Avenue, which was located just a block away from a public middle school and a public high school. Subsequent to receiving the information, they conducted surveillance on the residence where they observed several individuals engage in what appeared to be drug transactions.

An undercover agent then conducted several controlled buys of cocaine, cocaine base and marijuana from Serna Sr., and his sons - Romeo Serna Jr. and Randy Serna - at their residence throughout the course of several months. 

On March 7, 2013, after attempting another controlled buy of cocaine base (crack cocaine), law enforcement then arrested Serna Sr. and his two sons. A search warrant was also executed, resulting in the discovery of marijuana on the kitchen counter, in the attic and in the living room as well as cocaine in the kitchen along with various drug paraphernalia associated with drug trafficking. Serna Sr. and Serna Jr. admitted they had been selling marijuana and cocaine out of their residence for several years. 

Serna Jr. and Randy Serna pleaded guilty in the case and have also been ordered to prison.

Serna Sr. has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated with assistance from the Laredo Independent School District Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sonah Lee and Mary Ellen Smyth prosecuted the case.

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