Marijuana Trafficking Indictment Unsealed
United States Attorney David E. O’Meilia announced that a Federal Grand Jury indictment was unsealed today alleging that four individuals, Roberto Herrera, 54, Alfredo Herrera, 60, David Romero, 32, and Esteban Herrera, 61, all from the local area, were involved in a conspiracy to possess in excess of 1,000 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute and in a conspiracy to import marijuana. Additional money laundering and related charges were brought against the defendants and Lorena Miranda, 31. Furthermore, the government has filed a forfeiture claim seeking $1.8 million allegedly derived from drug trafficking activity. O’Meilia stated that the investigation, spanning four years, involved the tracing of approximately $1.8 million through various bank accounts in the Northern District of Oklahoma. The defendants are associated with various businesses in the Tulsa area including Casa Herrera, a check cashing business located at 9720 East 71 st Street, and another Casa Herrera business located at 2116 South Garnett Road.
The indictment alleges that between August 31, 2001, and up until the date of the indictment, October 15, 2003, a conspiracy existed not only to import, but to distribute and possess with intent to distribute, in excess of 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. If found guilty of these offenses, the defendants face 10 years to life imprisonment and up to a $4 million fine. The indictment also alleges that approximately $1.8 million in proceeds were derived from drug trafficking activity and was laundered through local financial institutions. Money laundering carries up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to twice the amount laundered. U.S. Attorney O’Meilia emphasized that federal law prohibits the laundering of proceeds obtained from drug trafficking and also the structuring of transactions in an effort to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements. A conviction for structuring a financial transaction carries up to 10 years and a $500,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney O’Meilia praised the work of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operating in the Northern District of Oklahoma and noted that this complex investigation involved agents and officers from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Tulsa Police Department. OCDETF Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen J. Litchfield and Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Depew will handle the prosecution. Additionally, during the service of search warrants this morning officers and agents from the Broken Arrow Police Department, Sand Springs Police Department, Bixby Police Department, Bartlesville Police Department, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service participated. O’Meilia further stressed that, consistent with the policies of the Department of Justice, drug traffickers and money launderers will be vigorously pursued in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
A Grand Jury indictment is one method of charging a defendant with alleged violations of federal law which must be proven in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt to overcome the defendants presumption of innocence.