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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 07, 2004

LEADER OF TRAFFICKING NETWORK THAT USED WOMAN TO TRANSPORT COCAINE TAPED TO THEIR BODIES CONVICTED

DEC 7 -- (LAREDO, TX) United States Attorney Michael Shelby today announced the conviction of Juan Federico Cruz for organizing and managing an illegal drug distribution network that used women to transport kilogram quantities of cocaine taped to their bodies. Yesterday afternoon, at a hearing held before United States District Judge George P. Kazen , Cruz, 32, of Laredo, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute in excess of 150 kilograms of cocaine and admitted his leadership role in trafficking activity.

Cruz's conviction is the result of an investigation initiated in May 2003 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) following the arrest of Rosalinda Villarreal-Cruz, Juan Federico Cruz's wife, and Elva Guadalupe Quiroz, who were aboard a passenger bus at the El Conejo bus station in Laredo, Texas, bound for Dallas. The two women, with the aid of duct tape and cellophane, had approximately four kilograms of cocaine wrapped around their waist.

The DEA's investigation identified a number of similar cocaine seizures which ultimately lead to evidence that proved that Juan Federico Cruz had hired a number of women to strap cocaine to their bodies and transport the contraband to cities like Dallas, San Antonio, New York and Chicago. DEA agents identified a number of women, including six who have been charged and convicted, who transported cocaine for Cruz.

Both Rosalinda Villarreal Cruz and Elva Guadalupe Quiroz, whose case initiated the investigation that eventually lead to Cruz's conviction, have been charged and convicted for their roles in Cruz's trafficking activity and are pending sentencing in federal court in Laredo.

Other women involved in trafficking for Cruz include Melissa Alcorta Garza and Anna Michelle Hernandez, both of Laredo, Texas, who were arrested in October 2002 by Dallas Police officers at the El Conejo Bus Station in Dallas. Much like Quiroz and Villarreal Cruz seven months earlier, these women had a total of eight kilograms of cocaine strapped to their waists. Garza and Hernandez had traveled from Laredo to Dallas in an attempt to deliver the cocaine. Both Hernandez and Garza were charged and have been convicted in state court of drug charges. Garza, who was convicted by a jury following a state trial, was sentenced to 25 years in state prison.

Two other Laredo woman charged, convicted and sentenced for their involvement with Cruz are Monica Ramirez and Rossana Cavasos-Trevizo. Both women were arrested in Laredo, Texas, on April 20, 2002, by the United States Border Patrol at the IH-35 checkpoint, after they were found to be smuggling cocaine. They too were using the same means of cellophane and duct tape to wrap kilograms of cocaine around their waist. Border Patrol agents seized about 6 kilograms of cocaine from the women. Convicted federally, Ramirez and Cavasos-Trevizo have been sentenced to 57 and 70 months in prison.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Scott Hacker.

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