June 07, 2017
Contact: Sammy Parks
Phone Number: (713) 693-3000
Head Of Major Marijuana Trafficking Organization Convicted
LAREDO, Texas - The head of a marijuana trafficking cell, Mexican National Armando Javier Picazo Jimenez, 42, has pled guilty for his role in a conspiracy to traffic drugs from Laredo to the Dallas area via the use of tractor trailers, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
In August 2013, authorities identified a drug trafficking organization responsible for the transportation and distribution of kilogram quantities of marijuana from Laredo to the Dallas area. Picazo Jimenez was identified as the head of the organization.
His contacts with Mexican sources of supply arranged for the marijuana to be smuggled from Mexico to Laredo. The organization leased Laredo warehouses to stash and prepare the marijuana bundles for further transportation. Picazo Jimenez directed the operation and had other co-conspirators coordinate for cover loads and commercial truck drivers to pick up the marijuana for transportation to the Dallas area.
Three other members of the Picazo Jimenez drug trafficking organization - Armando Eloy Gutierrez, 38, Javier Mota Villanueva, 33 and Leopoldo Rodriguez III, 25, all of Laredo - previously entered pleas of guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana. All three are awaiting sentencing.
Gutierrez was in charge of finding warehouses for the organization to use and then soliciting shipping companies to transport trailers with marijuana and cover with loads of merchandise. He would also act as a scout by following the drivers through checkpoint. Once through, he would then drive with others to the Dallas or Fort Worth area to assist in receiving and unloading the drugs.
Mota-Villanueva worked at the warehouses. He wrapped the marijuana, moved pallets and loaded the drugs onto trailers. He would also travel to Dallas along with Gutierrez.
Rodriguez was tasked with wrapping marijuana and assisting with loading of narcotics onto trailers at a warehouse.
The investigation revealed three warehouse in Laredo that the organization used at different periods from on or about September 2013 to on or about July 31, 2014. They were located on the 1800 block of Aduanales, 200 block of Corpus Christi Street and the 1600 block of West Calton. Three separate marijuana loads were seized that originated from each one of the three warehouses, totaling more than 1600 kilograms.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott Hacker accepted the plea today. Sentencing will be before U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen at a date to be determined. Due to the amounts for which they are held accountable, Picazo Jimenez, Gutierrez and Villanueva face a minimum 10 years and up to life in federal prison. Rodriguez faces a minimum of five and up to 40 years imprisonment.
Picazo Jimenez, Gutierrez and Mota will remain in custody, while Rodriguez was permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.
The DEA conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Operation known as “Weed Wacker.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Lou Castillo is prosecuting the case.