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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
September 2, 2004
CONTACT: D. Michael Littlefield, Assistant U.S. Attorney

Leader in Major Cocaine/Marijuana
Smuggling and Distribution Ring
Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

SEPT 2-- United States Attorney Richard B. Roper announced that San Angelo, Texas, resident, Joe Gary Rivas, was sentenced on Friday to life imprisonment, without parole, by the Honorable Sam R. Cummings, United States District Judge, in Lubbock, Texas. The Court found that Rivas was responsible for more than 20,000 pounds of marijuana, 264 kilograms of cocaine, and further found that Rivas received more than $3,000,000 in drug proceeds.

“Rivas and his organization are finished. The 15 different law enforcement agencies who teamed up to bring down this organization demonstrate the commitment of West Texas law enforcement to take on large scale narcotics trafficking. The life sentence is justified,” said U.S. Attorney Roper.

Joe Gary Rivas, age 59, pled guilty in June to conspiracy to import more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than one thousand kilograms of marijuana. Rivas, Joaquin Cadena Murietta Maldonado, and 27 other members of their drug smuggling and distribution organization were originally charged in a 28-count indictment that was unsealed in February 2003.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement agencies seized more than 1500 pounds of marijuana, more than 11 pounds of cocaine and more than $485,000 in cash. The majority of the other defendants charged in the indictment have pled guilty to their role in the organization and are serving their sentences. Joaquin Cadena Murietta Maldonado was sentenced in February 2004 to more than 27 years (327 months) imprisonment without parole.

From 1996 until February 2003, Rivas, Maldonado, and other members of his organization acquired large quantities of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico for distribution to other members of the drug trafficking organization in the United States. Rivas and Maldonado would have conspirators package, store, distribute and possess with intent to distribute the cocaine and marijuana and sales proceeds would be used by Rivas and Maldonado to purchase more drugs for further distribution. The proceeds would at times be bulk carried by the conspirators and/or wire transferred by them using Western Union or similar companies.

United States Attorney Roper praised the coordinated efforts of local, state, and federal law enforcement, including the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Rio Concho Multi Agency Drug Enforcement Task Force; San Angelo Police Department; Texas Department of Public Safety; U.S. Border Patrol; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Internal Revenue Service -Criminal Investigation Division; Drug Enforcement Administration; Tom Green County Sheriff's Office; Tom Green County District Attorney's Office; Big Spring, Texas Police Department; Schleicher County Sheriff's Office; Crockett County Sheriff's Office; Concho County Sheriff’s Office; and Sutton County Sheriff's Office.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tanya Pierce, of the Lubbock, Texas, United States Attorney’s Office.


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