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Fugitive Gets Forty-One Month Sentence for Transporting Drug Proceeds

MAR 20 (SAN FRANCISCO) – Ruben Rivera was sentenced on March 13, 2014, to 41 months in prison for attempting to transport monetary instruments for the purpose of laundering proceeds of heroin distribution.

Rivera pleaded guilty on Oct. 4, 2013, to violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(B). According to the plea agreement, Rivera admitted that on May 11, 2001, he attempted to smuggle $43,658, which he knew to be proceeds of heroin sales in the United States, across the border to Mexico. Rivera was given the money by co-defendant Luis Manuel Garcia Hernandez, a/k/a "Piojo," previously sentenced to 135 months of imprisonment for conspiracy to distribution heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, whom Rivera knew to be a heroin dealer, to deliver to Garcia Hernandez's contacts in Mexico. Rivera was stopped at the U.S.-Mexican border at Nogales, Arizona, by United States border agents, and the $43,658 was seized from him at that time. Rivera had intended to transport the money through the border and into Mexico, and he knew that the money represented the proceeds of a conspiracy to distribute heroin. Moreover, he knew the transportation was designed to avoid the reporting requirement for transporting that amount of money.

On June 18, 2001, Rivera was charged by Criminal Complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona with a violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5316(a)(1)(A) and 5332, attempting to transport U.S. currency of more than $10,000 at one time out of the United States into Mexico, without filing a report, in Case No. CR 01-2737M. Rivera was released on a bond pending trial in Arizona, and he soon thereafter became a fugitive. Rivera was charged in the Northern District of California on Nov. 6, 2001, with participating in the conspiracy to distribute heroin. He remained a fugitive as to both cases until Jan. 17, 2013, when he was arrested in Illinois by deputies of the U.S. Marshals Service.

"A 41-month sentence sends a strong and important message that becoming and remaining a fugitive will have serious consequences," said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. "Rivera knowingly remained a fugitive for 11 years, 3 months, and 8 days. He was apprehended through the hard work of the U.S. Marshals Service, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation, which originally investigated the heroin distribution conspiracy. Although Rivera's offense conduct was based on a single event of attempt to transport heroin proceeds to Mexico, this act was directly and knowingly intended to facilitate a large heroin distribution network."

The sentence was handed down by The Honorable Jeffrey S. White, United States District Court Judge, following a guilty plea to one count of attempting to transport monetary instruments for the purpose of laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(B). Judge White also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release. The Court imposed a sentencing enhancement for obstruction of justice, based on Rivera's fugitive status. The defendant has remained in custody since his apprehension on Jan. 17, 2013.

The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service.

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