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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
June 4, 2002


DEA Special Agent in Charge Sandalio Gonzalez announced today the extradition to Alpine, Texas of two major drug violators.

For the past several years the DEA office in Alpine, Texas has been investigating the Balderrama drug trafficking organization. Two key members of this organization, Francisco Rios-Balderrama and Armando Garcia-Quiroz, who authorities believe controlled a large portion of the drug flow in the Presidio-Ojinaga area, were recently extradited from Sydney, Australia to the United States. The men were arrested while returning from the Summer Olympics Games on September 21, 2000. On September 11, 2001 they escape from an Australian penitentiary while in a stolen truck used to drive through the prison barricades. They were re-capture in Australia on October 1, 2001.

Balderama and Quiroz will be held at a maximum-security facility until their trial on August 19, 2002. Both individuals were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury and charge with Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE), drug trafficking and conspiracy. Balderama, Quiroz and Ruben Valdez Carrasco are known as "Los Tres de la Sierra" (The Three from the Mountain). Valdez was arrested on October 25, 2000, in Hawaii also while returning from the Olympic Games. Valdez pleaded guilty to one charge of CCE, but he has not been sentenced.

The DEA believed that Balderama was the leader of the organization. The three men are alleged to be responsible for smuggling 76 tons of marihuana into the United States. This amount is believed to be only a portion of the entire amount of marijuana smuggled into the United States.

An indictment is an accusation by a Federal Grand Jury and a defendant is entitled to presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If convicted on all charges, the defendants face long federal prison terms.

For additional information contact Supervisory Special Michael O'Brien in Alpine at (915) 837-3421.

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