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Four Charged in Federal Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering Conspiracies

MAY 21 (BROWNSVILLE, Texas) - Four people have been charged for their involvement in a drug and money laundering conspiracy, three of whom have also been designated as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs), announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. 

The indictment charges Abel Briones-Ruiz aka “Cacho,” 45, his wife Myriam Susana Beattie de Briones, 36, and brother-in-law Rogelio Nieto-Gonzalez, 37, along with another individual who is not yet in custody. Briones-Ruiz, Beattie de Briones and Gonzalez-Nieto are not believed to be residing in the United States.

In conjunction with the announcement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control has designated Briones Ruiz, Beattie de Briones and Nieto-Gonzalez each as a SDNT pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act for allegedly providing support for the international narcotics trafficking activities of the Gulf Cartel.

The indictment, returned under seal Oct. 22, 2014, was unsealed Monday, May 18, 2015.

Briones-Ruiz, Nieto-Gonzalez and others allegedly conspired from Jan. 1, 2005, to Oct. 22, 2014, to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. If convicted, they each face no less than 10 years and up to life in federal prison as well as a possible $10 million maximum fine.

Briones-Ruiz, Nieto-Gonzalez and Beattie de Briones are charged with conspiring during the same time period to launder the proceeds from distributing controlled substances. They face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and a possible $500,000 maximum fine.

In addition, Briones-Ruiz and another are further charged with international transportation of funds from drug sales which also carries a 20-year-maximum and $500,000 fine.

Finally, Briones-Ruiz and his wife allegedly structured transactions to evade reporting requirements. If convicted of that offense, they each face another 10 years in federal prison and $500,000 fine. 

The government also gave notice in the indictment that it intends to seek forfeiture of properties Gonzalez-Nieto owned.

This case was investigated through a joint effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Customs and Border Protection, Texas Department of Public Safety, Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, sheriff’s offices in Cameron and Willacy Counties, and police departments in Brownsville, Port Isabel, Harlingen and San Benito.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hess is prosecuting the case.

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

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