Marijuana Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced in Federal Court
– Marijuana originated in Mexico, transported to cell in Texas for storage and distribution in Kentucky
– Arrests made when semi-tractor trailer hauling 3,766 pounds of marijuana became stuck in Eastern Jefferson County farmland
– Estimated street value of $6,000,000
LOUISVILLE, KY – The last of six defendants charged in a large marijuana syndication with ties to Mexico, Texas and Kentucky was sentenced today in United States District Court to ten years in prison followed by five years of supervised release, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.
Exsaul Silva-Garcia, from McAllen, Texas, was convicted in U. S. District Court on February 23, 2012, following a four day trial by a federal jury on charges of possession with intent to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and was acquitted of a single charge of conspiracy by the same jury.
According to information presented in court, on February 25, 2010, law enforcement intercepted a semi-tractor trailer carrying 3,766 pounds (1,711 kilograms) of marijuana, with a street value of $6,000,000 stored in a hidden compartment, and arrested Silva-Garcia along with Rodrigo Macias-Farias, Rafael Lara-Gascon, Eladio Hernandez-Lopez, Jr., Carlos Mora-Sanchez, Fernando Cortez-Briones, and Cupertino Gonzalez-Alverado.
Silva-Garcia arrived in Louisville from McAllen, Texas, on February 24, 2010, the day before the semi-tractor trailer arrived, to coordinate the distribution of the marijuana with Macias-Farias and Lara-Gascon. On the following morning of February 25, 2010, Silva-Garcia was picked up from his hotel in Louisville by Macias-Farias and Lara-Gascon and rode with them to meet the semi-tractor trailer. Silva-Garcia was in contact with Hernandez-Lopez (the driver of the semi-tractor trailer) by cell phone and directed him to follow the defendants to a secluded sod farm off of Aiken Road in Eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky to offload the marijuana to mini-vans. At the sod farm, the semi-tractor failed to navigate the turn into the entrance of the farm and became stuck between the entrance to the farm and Aiken Road. Silva-Garcia, along with Macias-Farias and Lara-Gascon, drove to a nearby gas station and attempted to secure a tow truck to dislodge the semi-tractor trailer. At the gas station, law enforcement arrested Silva-Garcia, Macias-Farias and Lara-Gascon. Two cell phones were recovered from the person of Silva-Garcia, including the cell phone he used to maintain contact with Hernandez-Lopez.
Following his arrest, Silva-Garcia made statements to law enforcement including a denial of knowing Macias-Farias and Lara-Gascon (the two individuals he was arrested with) or anything about the marijuana and claimed he was there to buy a new truck.
Following his release on bond, Silva-Garcia absconded and attempted to flee in order to avoid prosecution and punishment. Silva-Garcia failed to report as directed to Pretrial Services in early October, 2010, and a warrant for his arrest was issued. On June 24, 2011, Silva-Garcia was arrested by the United States Border Patrol in a remote area near the border between the United States and Mexico. Pursuant to the outstanding warrant Silva-Garcia was returned to Western District of Kentucky to stand trial.
To date, all but one of the defendants has been convicted at trial or pled guilty to both counts of the second superseding indictment or the superseding indictment.
Macias-Farias, following a jury trial, was convicted on July 1, 2011, on both counts of the second superseding indictment and was sentenced to 320 months imprisonment. Rafael Lara-Gascon has violated his bond and absconded, his current whereabouts are unknown. Hernandez-Lopez, following a jury trial, was convicted on July 1, 2011, on both counts of the second superseding indictment and was sentenced to 120 months imprisonment. Mora-Sanchez entered a guilty plea on June 23, 2011, to both counts of the second superseding indictment and was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment. Cortez-Briones entered a guilty plea on July 26, 2010, to Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana the sole count of the superseding indictment (therefore he was not named in the Second Superceding Indictment) and was sentenced to 87 months imprisonment. Gonzalez-Alverado entered a guilty plea on June 27, 2011, to both counts of the second superseding indictment and was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment. Mejia-Rentaria (who was arrested later) entered a guilty plea on June 23, 2011, to both counts of the second superseding indictment and was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mac Shannon and it was investigated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.