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Rio Grande Valley Defendants Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering

LAREDO, TX – Eight members of a large scale drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating out of the McAllen, Texas, area from approximately 2004 through 2009 were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 180 to 360 months, without parole, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas Hinojosa and United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

United States District Judge Micaela Alvarez handed down the prison terms at a hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 02, 2011. The eight defendants sentenced today, convicted of drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies after pleading guilty on different dates between December 2009 and June 2010, include Arturo Pena Molina, 40, of McAllen, Humberto Ontiveros, 42, of Pharr, Texas, and Genaro Torres Ozuna, 42, Liandro Gutierrez Jr., 38, Aaron Olabarrieta, 49, Miguel Angel Pina Jr., 33, German Perez Rincon Jr., 40, and Raul Zambrano, 43, all residences of various cities and towns in the Rio Grande Valley.

The charges and ultimately the convictions and sentences are the result of a two-plus year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation into a drug trafficking and money laundering organization led by Molina and based out of McAllen. Ontiveros worked directly for Molina and also supervised other members of the group. The members of these conspiracies used tractor-trailers to ship large quantities of cocaine and marijuana from the McAllen area to various locations in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. The organization hired commercial truck drivers to transport the drugs, which were placed in trailers containing loads of legitimate merchandise. After the drivers delivered the drugs, they picked up large amounts of cash -- the proceeds from the drug sales -- and transported the cash to the Rio Grande Valley. The investigation ultimately led to the conviction of Molina and 11 others as well as the seizure of more than 200 kilograms of cocaine, 2000 kilograms of marijuana and the seizure and forfeiture of nearly $5 million in United States currency.

Molina and Ontiveros, the leaders of the conspiracies, were sentenced to 300 and 360 months in prison, respectively. The other six defendants sentenced yesterday worked for Molina and Ontiveros as drivers of the tractor trailers containing either cocaine or large amounts of cash, or helping others to do so. These six defendants were sentenced to the following prison terms:

Genaro Torres Ozuna 210 months

Liandro Gutierrez Jr. 324 months

Aaron Olabarrieta 350 months

Miguel Angel Pina Jr. 180 months

German Perez Rincon Jr. 210 months

Raul Zambrano 168 months

Judge Alvarez has further ordered that each of these defendants serve terms of supervised release ranging from three to 10 years. Four other defendants charged and convicted for their roles in this organization were previously sentenced in June 2010 by Judge Alvarez to terms of imprisonment ranging from 46 to 120 months in prison.

The agencies involved in this OCDETF investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration , FBI and Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations with the assistance of the United States Border Patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety, Mission Police Department, Georgia State Patrol, Florida Highway Patrol and Henderson (North Carolina) Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Arthur R. Jones and Jesus Salazar are prosecuting the case.


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