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Head of the Gulf Cartel Sentenced to Federal Prison for Drug Trafficking

JUN 30 (BEAUMONT, Texas) - Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that the current head of the Mexican drug trafficking organization, the Gulf Cartel, or Cartel del Golfo, has been sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas.

        Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, 23, of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, pleaded guilty on Jan. 13, 2015 to distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Saenz-Tamez was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone and ordered to pay a money judgment of $100 million.

        According to information presented in court, a federal investigation into the large-scale trafficking of illegal drugs from Mexico into the Eastern District of Texas led to the identity of Saenz-Tamez.  The investigation revealed Saenz-Tamez was responsible for the shipment of one-half ton of cocaine and 90 tons of marijuana into the Eastern District of Texas and then to locations across the nation, including Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland and Georgia.  As a result of this scheme, $100 million was laundered by Saenz-Tamez and his drug trafficking organization.  

Saenz-Tamez was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 5, 2013 and charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to money launder.  Saenz-Tamez was arrested by federal agents on Oct. 9, 2014 while shopping in Edinburg, Texas. 

        This case is the result of ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) joint investigations, Operation South Park, Operation La Mano Negra, Operation Frontera Chica and Operation Iceberg.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. 

This joint law enforcement investigation was led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations, Houston HIDTA Group 33, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Attorney General’s Office, National Guard of Texas – Joint Counterdrug, Beaumont Police Department, Houston Police Department, Nacogdoches Police Department,  Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Craft.
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