February 18, 2015
Contact: Wendell Campbell
Phone Number: (713) 693-3000
Multiple Arrests In Massive Two-City Enforcement Action
LAREDO, Texas - A federal indictment has been partially unsealed following the arrest of 17 defendants in the Laredo and Dallas areas on charges related to a long-term investigation into a drug and money laundering conspiracy, announced Drug Enforcement (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
“Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our communities,” said Arabit. “DEA, along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners in Laredo and throughout Texas, will continue to coordinate and work closely together and pursue those individuals who jeopardize our neighborhoods through their smuggling and distribution of illegal and dangerous drugs.”
The indictment was returned under seal Feb. 3, 2015, and partially unsealed as to each defendant upon their arrest today. It remains sealed as to those charged but not as yet in custody.
Those arrested in the Laredo area were:
Jaime Enrique Montalvo-Ruiz, 44, Felipe Gonzalez-Flores, 46, Jose Angel Trejo, 42, Salvador Saldaña-Medrano, 36, Baltazar Ibarra Cardona, 54, Ricardo Ramirez, 33, Raquel Margarita Ramos Jimenez, 43, and Leslie Bernice Trejo, 22, all of Laredo; and Victor Hugo Trejo Nava, 41, Joshua Sanchez, 32, and Erika Alvarez, 38, all of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
They are expected to make their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott Hacker tomorrow morning, at which time the government expects to request their continued detention pending further criminal proceedings.
Arturo Lozano, 47, of Grand Prairie, and Leocadio Ruiz, 47, of Cedar Hill, were arrested in the Dallas area. They made their initial appearances in Dallas today and are expected to appear in Laredo in the near future.
Four others are currently in custody on unrelated charges - Erasmo Trejo-Nava, 43, and Gerardo Moreno Recio, 46, both of Laredo; and Juan Manuel Vargas-Aguilar, 45, and Mario Alberto Rodriguez, 28, both of Mexico. They are also expected to be transported to Laredo to face the new charges.
The indictment alleges the defendants were members of a drug and money laundering organization from on or about June 2011 through June 2013. They are charged with various federal violations, including engaging in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute multiple kilogram quantities of marijuana as well as a conspiracy to launder drug proceeds.
The indictment alleges that the Erasmo Trejo-Nava drug trafficking organization, which operated out of the Laredo area, was engaged in a conspiracy to distribute bulk quantities of marijuana from the Laredo area for distribution in the Dallas area. The indictment also alleges the organization was involved in a money laundering conspiracy in conjunction with the drug conspiracy. As such, large sums of money were allegedly transported from the Dallas area - the organization’s point of drug distributions - to Laredo and then Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, according to the indictment.
The defendants allegedly procured multiple kilogram quantities of marijuana from the Republic of Mexico and illegally imported into the United States for further transportation by tractor trailer and other means. The indictment also alleges the profits from the sale and distribution of the marijuana were collected from drug distributors in the Dallas area and were transported to the Laredo area. The defendants then allegedly arranged for the transportation of those proceeds back to the Republic of Mexico. According to the charges, the proceeds were used to conduct financial transactions designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, ownership, control and source of the drug proceeds when purchasing real estate, materials and services.
The indictment is the culmination of a long term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Investigation dubbed Operation Trena Sin Trono spearheaded by the DEA and IRS-Criminal Investigation with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, Laredo Police Department and Zavala County Sheriff’s Office. Numerous agencies assisted with the arrests to include U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Webb County Sheriff’s Office, Webb Country Constable’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection Air & Marine. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Lou Castillo is prosecuting the case.