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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
July 20, 2004
For Additional Information, Contact:

Robert Paiz, Public Information Officer
Houston Division
E-mail: Houstonpio@aol.com

Multi-Agency Investigation Leads to Arrest of 18 Members of Drug Criminal Enterprise
Detention Hearings Scheduled Today

JULY 20--(LAREDO, TX) United States Attorney Michael Shelby and Special Agent in Charge James D. Craig of the Houston Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration announced the arrest and indictment of 18 persons charged in a twelve-count indictment for their role in a drug and money laundering criminal enterprise. The indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury in Laredo, Texas, on July 7, 2004, has been unsealed following the arrest of 18 defendants, including SIMON LOPEZ, 34, of the 900 block of Graceland in Laredo, Texas, an alleged head of the organization.

In addition to the criminal charges, the indictment seeks to forfeit all property, real and personal, involved in the offenses and all property traceable to such property to include but not limited to approximately $15 million dollars in United States Currency.

The indictment charges the alleged members of this drug and money laundering organization with various federal violations, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute large kilograms quantities of marijuana and cocaine, conspiracy to launder drug proceeds and numerous other controlled substances violations. The alleged illegal conduct occurred during an eight- year period beginning in 1996.

SIMON LOPEZ is the alleged head of this organization and enterprise, which operates in Texas, Georgia and elsewhere, distributing marijuana and cocaine. Simon Lopez is accused of individually and through known and unknown co-conspirators, recruiting numerous individuals in Texas, Georgia and elsewhere to perform a variety of functions critical to the success of the organization and receiving cash from the sale of marijuana and cocaine. The indictment outlines the following functions of the illegal enterprise as allegedly having been conducted by various co-conspirators: assisting in the storage, wrapping, transportation, loading, unloading and delivery of drug shipments and in the collection, storage, wrapping, transportation and delivery of drug money.

The seventeen other co-conspirators are alleged to have assisted, aided or abetted the organization in the receipt, supply and distribution of marijuana and cocaine from Texas to various locations within the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and other locations and in the collection of proceeds from the distribution of said controlled substances.

According to the indictment, the conspirators used commercial tractor trailers and other means to transport and deliver cocaine and marijuana from Texas to distributors in Georgia, North Carolina and elsewhere. The indictment further alleges that following the delivery of shipments of cocaine and marijuana to the various distributors, co-conspirators collected the drug profits, concealed them in ice chests and other containers and transported them in personal vehicles or by tractor trailer back to the Laredo, Texas area.

The indictment further indicates that the organization used drug proceeds to pay for drug debts, airline tickets, leases on vehicles, rent on apartments, homes and warehouses, hotels, commodities, cellular telephones and to wire money via Western Union transfers to promote the carrying on of the drug trafficking business.

As of July 19, 2004, the following defendants have been arrested:

NOE LOPEZ, JR., 21, of the 400 block of Longshadow, Laredo, TX;

FRANCISCO ANTONIO CANSINO, a/k/a TONY", age unknown, of the 800 block of Sandy Lane, Laredo, TX;

SERGIO BARRAGAN,27, of the 2900 block of Rosario, Laredo, TX;

GERARDO GARZA, a/k/a "JERRY", 30, of the 700 block of Antelope Lane, Laredo, TX;

JESUS DEL ANGEL SALDIVAR a/k/a "CHUY", age unknown; of the 500 block of Garfield, Laredo, TX;

JOSE ANGEL SOLIS, age unknown; of the 800 block of Cupid Lane, Laredo, TX;
JORGE IBARRA a/k/a "EL MORRO", 32; of the 2000 block of Guerrero, Laredo, TX.;

JUAN IBARRA, 36, of the 800 block of Dalia Lane, Laredo, TX;

ELEUTERIO LIENDO, 39, of the 1400 block of Los Ebanos, Laredo, TX;

RICARDO VILLARREAL, 27, of the 3100 block of Clark, Laredo, TX;

JUAN ANTONIO TREVINO, 43, of the 400 block of Croyden, Laredo, TX;

RICARDO CRUZ, 47, of Grove Street in Laredo, TX;

JUAN MONTALVO FLORES, 31, of the 1400 block of Belden, Laredo, TX;

ARTURO VIDALES, 26, of Nuevo Laredo, Tamauplipas, MX;

JORGE VIDALES-AGUILAR, 24, of Nuevo Laredo, Tamauplipas, MX;

DAVID VASQUEZ, age unknown, Atlanta, Georgia; and

ADRIANA LAURA CORTEZ, 21, 800 block of Eagle Creek, Lawrenceville, Georgia.

With the exception of Simon Lopez, Noel Lopez, Jr.; Juan Antonio Trevino, Juan Montalvo-Flores and Jorge Vidales Aguilar, all of whom have been ordered held in federal custody without bond, all other Laredo area defendants have been scheduled to appear in federal court today, Tuesday, July 20, 2004, for detention hearings.

David Vasquez and Adrana Laura Cortez, who were arrested in the Atlanta, Georgia, area have been ordered released on bond.

The indictment is the result of an extensive OCDETF investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshal Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Laredo Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary Lou Castiilo.

An indictment is an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.



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