Foreign National Pleads Guilty
A man who was indicted along with twenty-five other individuals and charged with being a member of a large cocaine distribution organization, has pled guilty, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Saul Ruelas- Valdovinos, 35, a citizen of Mexico, who is currently in the United States illegally, and most recently resided in Chicago, Illinois, entered a plea of guilty on February 2, 2012, to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine. Ruelas-Valdovinos also admitted the forfeiture allegation contained in the indictment. In addition, the United States advised Ruelas-Valdovinos that it would seek the entry of a Judicial Order of Removal at the time of sentencing, which would require him to be deported from the United States following his release from prison.
Ruelas-Valdovinos is currently scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on May 31, 2012, in United States District Court in East St. Louis. At that time, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment to a possible maximum penalty of imprisonment for life, a fine of not more than $10,005,000, and a term of supervised release of at least 5 years. Ruelas-Valdovinos will also be required to pay a mandatory special assessment of $100.
Twenty-five co-conspirators with Ruelas-Valdovinos have also entered pleas of guilty. One other individual who was charged in the same indictment as Ruelas-Valdovinos is currently awaiting trial, which is scheduled to begin on March 12, 2012. He is presumed to be innocent of all charges and is entitled to a fair trial at which the Government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Evidence in support of the indictment was obtained in an investigation which was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF initiative is designed to bring federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and resources together to identify, target and dismantle large national and international drug trafficking organizations. Participating agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Marshal Service, the Granite City Police Department, Fairmont City Police Department, Collinsville Police Department, Fairview Heights Police Department, Caseyville Police Department, Pontoon Beach Police Department, Park Hills (Missouri) Police Department, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, and the Illinois State Police. This case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Randy G. Massey.