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Four Convicted in Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracy

JAN 07 (CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) - One man and three women, all of South Texas, entered guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Efren Cisneros-Reyes, 36, Mayra Alejandra Cervantes, 27, and Norma Argelia Ramirez, 42, all of McAllen; and Gabriela Martinez, 34, of Mission, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Cisneros-Reyes, Cervantes and Ramirez also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, while Cisneros-Reyes was also convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.  

At the time of his plea, Cisneros-Reyes agreed to the forfeiture of two firearms - a Cobra FS380, .380 caliber pistol and a Maverick Arms, Model 88, 12-gauge shotgun. Ramirez agreed to the forfeiture of a Wells Fargo bank account in her name. 

The investigation identified the four defendants as leaders within this criminal organization. Law enforcement determined that the organization utilized many different methods of transportation to include, but not limited to, concealing cocaine in false compartments located inside passenger vehicles and tractor/trailers. Further, the investigation revealed a total of 19 funnel bank accounts directly linked to members of the organization. These funnel bank accounts have been used to funnel illicit bulk currency from throughout the country to the Rio Grande Valley. 

An estimated 100 kilograms of cocaine were trafficked during the course of the conspiracy, and more than $1 million  in currency was transported to South Texas.

Based upon the amount of the alleged cocaine involved, all of the defendants face no less than 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison. Those convicted of the money laundering conspiracy also face up to 20 years imprisonment. Cisneros-Reyes could receive up to another 10 years for the firearms conviction. Sentencing has been set for April 21, 2016.

The case is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Operation dubbed “Operation Green-Eyed Tiger” conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration; Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations,; police departments in Mission, Texas, and McAllen, Texas, as well as the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorney Julie K. Hampton is prosecuting the case.   

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