July 21, 2011
Contact: Lucy Holcomb
Phone Number: (915) 832-6000
Six Arrested In El Paso/Alpine Portion Of Project Delirium
Arrests were part of nationwide takedown of members and associates of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel
EL PASO, TX -- - DEA-El Paso Division, Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit and United States Attorney John E. Murphy and announced that six individuals believed to have ties to the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel are in custody based on federal charges filed in west Texas.
In Alpine, 46-year-old Marco Medina-Espinoza of Denver, Colorado, and 34-year-old Ruth Sanchez of Presidio, Texas, are charged in separate indictments with possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Marco is charged in a total of four counts; Ruth, two counts. Upon conviction, Medina and Sanchez face between five and 40 years in federal prison per count. Both remain in federal custody pending detention hearings. Yesterday, authorities arrested Sanchez without incident. Medina was arrested on Tuesday without incident. To date, this investigation has involved the seizure of more than 500 pounds of marijuana.
In El Paso, 43-year-old Amado Erives-Montes, a resident of Mexico, and 42-year-old Jesus Lorenzo Sanchez of El Paso, are charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine on November 1, 2009. Sanchez, along with 39-year-old Javier Ivan Muro-Palacios, a resident of Mexico, and 30-year-old Victor Manuel Atilano of El Paso, also faces charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute over 50 kilograms of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute over 50 kilograms of marijuana. Upon conviction of all charges, Erives and Sanchez each face a minimum of ten years and up to life in federal prison; Muro and Atilano, up to 20 years in federal prison. To date, this case has resulted in the seizure of 208 pounds of marijuana, 248 kilograms of cocaine, three vehicles and $17,300 in U.S. currency.
“These indictments and arrests are another example of our ongoing, coordinated efforts against drug trafficking organizations whose reach spans both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. In west Texas and throughout New Mexico, DEA and our partners are determined to find drug traffickers, shut down their operations, and bring them to justice,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Project Delirium is the result of information gathered during the course of a previous effort targeting La Familia, known as Project Coronado. To date, Project Delirium has led to the arrest of 1,985 individuals and the seizure of approximately $62 million in U.S. currency, and approximately 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,722 kilograms of cocaine, 1,005 pounds of heroin, 14,818 pounds of marijuana and $3.8 million in other assets.
The investigative efforts in Project Delirium were coordinated by the multi-agency Special Operations Division, comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, ICE, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service, as well as attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Office of International Affairs. More than 300 federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies contributed investigative and prosecutorial resources to Project Delirium through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.