Hidalgo County Man Convicted of Cocaine Conspiracy
July 28 --(HOUSTON, Texas) – Ricardo Garcia-Heredia, 44, of McAllen, Texas, has been sentenced to a total of 360 months in prison for drug trafficking and illegal re-entry into the U.S. after being deported, United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced today. He will also serve a 10-year term of supervised release following completion of his prison term.
On May 8, 2008, a jury found Garcia guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to launder money, possession with intent to distribute 480 kilograms of cocaine Sept. 1, 1999, and possession with intent to distribute 706 kilograms of cocaine June 5, 2000. He was acquitted by the jury of possession with intent to distribute 477 kilograms of cocaine Nov. 7, 1999. Garcia had been indicted for these offenses in March 2001, but remained a fugitive until his arrest in January 2008.
In a separate indictment, Garcia-Heredia pleaded guilty on April 25, 2008, to the offense of Illegal Re-Entry after deportation. Garcia admitted during the plea of guilty that he had been deported on May 16, 2000, and that thereafter he knowingly entered the United States without permission. Garcia-Heredia was arrested Jan. 11, 2008. He presented fake identification documents and claimed a fake identity to the arresting agents. When confronted with his Texas driver’s license, he admitted he had lied about his identity and his false identification documents identified him as Jesus Hernandez, a resident of Chicago, Ill. During the trial on the cocaine conspiracy, witnesses established that Chicago was the destination for the bulk of the cocaine in this case.
During trial on the drug trafficking charges, witnesses testified about Garcia-Heredia’s role as manager of the transportation and distribution of cocaine from the Rio Grande Valley to other destinations within the United States, mainly Chicago. Witnesses also testified about Garcia-Heredia’s role in managing the flow of drug proceeds from Chicago back to the Rio Grande Valley and, eventually, Mexico. The trial evidence proved Garcia-Heredia used his trucking business, Earth Transportation, in Edinburg, Texas, as a front to recruit drivers who would transport the large loads of cocaine alleged in this case.
During the sentencing, Judge Head commented on the June 27, 2008, arrest by Brownsville FBI agents of Antonio Trevino, Garcia-Heredia’s brother-in-law, for the offense of attempting to help Garcia-Heredia escape from the Brooks County Jail and thereby avoid punishment. According to the complaint filed in that case, Trevino had hired a law enforcement officer posing as a United States Marshal to break Garcia-Heredia out of the Brooks County Detention Center. The complaint alleges that on June 27, 2008, Trevino paid $290,900 as a down payment for the planned jail break. The complaint further alleges Trevino had driven a truck registered to Garcia-Heredia’s mother to the various meetings with the undercover officer. Trevino was arrested after he delivered the money and is being prosecuted separately in United States District Court in Brownsville, Texas. Judge Head elected not to consider the planned escape in making his punishment decision on the Garcia-Heredia case. A criminal complaint is an accusation of alleged criminal conduct, not evidence. Trevino is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
The investigation leading to the drug trafficking charges was conducted through the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force in Corpus Christi by special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Division. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jon Muschenheim.