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Eight Arrested in Tornillo, TX and St. Paul, MN Marijuana Distribution Ring

DEC 07 (EL PASO, Texas) – The Drug Enforcement Administration El Paso Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit and United States Attorney Robert Pitman announced that federal and state authorities have arrested eight individuals in connection with a marijuana distribution and money laundering conspiracy based in El Paso, but also operating out of Denver and Minneapolis. 

A three-count federal grand jury indictment, returned on November 20, 2012, and unsealed today, charges the following individuals: 1) Jose Raul Marquez-Erives (Conspiracy to Import a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana), Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana), and Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments); 2) Hector Alonso Renteria-Torres (Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana); 3) Victor Portillo (Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana) and Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments); 4) Jesus Rodriguez-Rodriguez (Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana) and Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments); 5) Patricia Toriz (Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments); 6) Jesus Estrada (Conspiracy to Import a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana) and Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana)); 7) Roberto Ceniceros-Cervantes (Conspiracy to Import a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana) and Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana)); and 8) Manuel Salaices (Conspiracy to Import a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana) and Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana)). 

Conspiracy to Import a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana) and Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana) both carry a range of imprisonment of 10 years to life.  Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments carries a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.

According to the indictment, Marquez and others operated an El Paso based drug trafficking organization.  This organization operated by receiving shipments of marijuana in or near El Paso, Texas, from individuals in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.  Once in, the marijuana was brought into the United States, and transported to Minneapolis, Minnesota, via Denver, Colorado.  Drug proceeds were then transported to or deposited into bank accounts controlled by Marquez.

            This case resulted from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the United States Attorney’s Office (Minneapolis). 

                An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The DEA El Paso Division encourages parents, and their children to visit the following interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.