October 07, 2014
Contact: Wendell Campbell
Phone Number: (713) 693-3000
Santeria Follower And Others Head To Prison On Federal Drug Charges
BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Francisco Javier Maya, 35, has been ordered to prison following his convictions of conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute approximately 1,000 pounds of marijuana, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. A jury convicted Maya Jan. 30, 2014, after two days of trial testimony and approximately six hours of deliberations.
Today, U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle, who presided over the trial, handed Maya a sentence of 189 months for the conspiracy charge and 189 months on the possession charge. The sentences will be served concurrently. At the hearing, additional evidence was presented including that he was a leader and organizer of the conspirators. Maya will also be required to serve a term of five years of supervised release following completion of the prison term. Also sentenced today were Phillip Cross, 56, Cade Jobe, 37, and Julio Treto, 56, to respective terms of 58 months, 38 and 47 months in federal prison. Cross, Jobe and Treto had previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy as did seven others - Jose Angel Marichalar Jr., 33, Yisnel Garcia Gonzalez, 30, Angel Barraza, 34, Jesus Gonzalez, 35, Delton Hinderliter, 35, Adonys Hurtado-Gutierrez, 38 - who are set for sentencing at a later date.
Four others were charged in a separate, but related case. Jesus Mauricio Juarez, 28, Ruben Gonzalez-Cavazos, 30, Adolfo Lozano-Luna 36, and Alberto Martinez, 51, had also previously pleaded guilty. Martinez received a sentence of 70 months today, while Lozano-Luna, Juarez and Gonzalez-Cavazos were sentenced previously to respective terms of 70, 31 and 41 months.
At Maya’s trial, the jury heard evidence that placed him in a conspiracy with the others involving several marijuana loads each totaling between 300 and 1,000 pounds between the summer of 2012 and January 2013. Maya’s role in the drug trafficking organization was to provide tractor trailer drivers to drive marijuana loads to locations including Houston and Taylor. Maya would share in the profits of each load, making between $4000-$5000 per load.
On one occasion, he provided his wife’s bank account number in order for another conspirator to deposit the drug proceeds. Evidence was presented that $6,500 was deposited to Maya’s wife’s account on Nov. 28, 2012, right after a successful 300 pound marijuana delivery to Taylor by the organization.
Evidence showed Maya was a follower of the Santeria religion. The jury saw photos of Maya’s residence in Mission, which depicted numerous images of what was considered to be altars showing glasses of alcohol, knives, a machete, kettles, feathers and substances that appeared to be blood. Testimony also included descriptions of two rituals involving the sacrifice of animals.
In December 2012, Maya had a Santeria priest, known as a “Padrino,” perform rituals with the organization to “bless” a 1,000 pound marijuana load that was destined for Houston. After meeting with the Padrino, Maya, Gonzalez-Cavazos and Juarez decided the marijuana load should remain in the Rio Grande Valley. The next day, a second ritual, attended by all five defendants, was performed and the 1,000 pounds of marijuana was to be transported to Houston. However, the marijuana was stolen from the group by unknown individuals that evening. After the theft and a subsequent improvised explosive device detonated at Juarez’s residence in Brownsville, law enforcement was able to piece together the events and conspirators involved in this drug trafficking organization.
Maya will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. The case was the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation involving agents from Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Brownsville Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angel Castro and Jody Young prosecuted the case.