Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Department of Justice
United States Attorney James R. Dedrick Eastern District of Tennessee
FEDERAL JURY CONVICTS JESUS HUERTA, WILEY BARNETT, JAVIER FLORES-DELACRUZ, CARLOS HERNANDEZ, AND JUSTIN BLAKE SALDIVAR OF MARIJUANA TRAFFICKING
GREENEVILLE, Tenn --Following a four-week trial in United States District Court, Greeneville, Tennessee, a jury convicted Jesus Huerta, Wiley Barnett, Javier Flores-delacruz, Carlos Hernandez, and Justin Blake Saldivar of marijuana trafficking.
Jesus Huerta and Wiley Barnett, both of Johnson City, were convicted of conspiring to manufacture 1,000 or more marijuana plants and conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.
Carlos Hernandez, also of Johnson City, was convicted of conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute at least 100 kilograms but less than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Javier Flores-Delacruz of the McAllen, Texas area, was convicted of conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. Justin Blake Saldivar, of San Juan, Texas, was convicted of conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute at least 100 kilograms but less than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. The jury also returned a verdict against Huerta and Flores-Delacruz for a money judgment of $6,000,000, representing the proceeds of the marijuana trafficking.
Sentencing is set for August 9, 2010, at 9:00 a.m., in United States District Court, Greeneville, Tennessee. Barnett faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and up to life in prison. Huerta and Delacruz face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison. Hernandez and Saldivar face a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and up to 40 years in prison.
The leader of both conspiracies was Raymundo Miller-Guerra of Houston, Texas, who was indicted, but was a fugitive when he was found murdered in Houston on December 8, 2009. On December 4, 2007, Miller-Guerra and his brother-in-law, Javier Flores-Delacruz, were stopped in Johnson City with over $23,000, representing proceeds of marijuana trafficking.
Barnett was responsible for transporting marijuana in motor homes on several occasions between Houston, Texas and Johnson City, loaded with over 500 lbs. of marijuana on each occasion. In May 2008, troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, arrested Barnett after stopping him in a motor home loaded with 581 lbs. of marijuana. Barnett later confessed to transporting bulk cash from Johnson City to Houston and to transporting marijuana from Houston to Johnson City.
In May 2008, Washington County deputies searched a residence in Johnson City, where they discovered over $80,000 hidden in the bottom of a modified cooler and six firearms, which were strategically buried with marijuana packaging. Both Huerta and Barnett were tied to this “stash house.” In July2008, multiple search warrants were executed in Johnson City and Bristol, Tennessee, including the residences of Jesus Huerta and Carlos Hernandez, resulting in the seizure of drug ledgers, firearms, marijuana, and tools of the drug trade.
In September 2008, an off-duty Forest Service employee stumbled upon a marijuana grow operation in the Pisgah National Forest, off the Blue Ridge Parkway, resulting in the discovery of 3,717 marijuana plants. The jury held Huerta and Barnett responsible for the marijuana grow operation.
In October 2008, Drug Enforcement Agents and members of the Texas Department of Public Safety, searched several marijuana “stash houses” in Houston and McAllen, Texas. These searches resulted in the seizure of numerous drug ledgers, marijuana, and other documents relating to the trafficking of marijuana. Various co-conspirators testified that Saldivar served as a courier for marijuana and cash between McAllen, Texas and Johnson City. Carlos Hernandez worked as a distributor of marijuana for both Jesus Huerta and co-defendant Jose Colunga.
In January 2009, Javier Flores-Delacruz was arrested crossing over the border from Mexico into the United States. Flores-Delacruz was in possession of drug ledgers in his wallet. Testimony identified Flores-Delacruz as the transporter of vehicles to Mexico, for Miller-Guerra, in payment of drug debts.
Based on the investigation, these conspirators trafficked in over 13,000 kilograms of marijuana between Texas and Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, Illinois and North Carolina. Miller-Guerra obtained the bulk of the marijuana from Mexico, with shipments of over a ton, being transported across the border in tractor-trailers. The trial was the culmination of a two-year investigation, which also resulted in 21 co-conspirators pleading guilty to trafficking in marijuana.
Law enforcement agencies participating in the joint investigation which led to the indictment and subsequent conviction of Jesus Huerta, Wiley Barnett, Javier Flores-Delacruz, Justin Blake Saldivar, and Carlos Hernandez, included the Tennessee First Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Johnson City Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the McDowell County, N.C., Sheriff’s Office, the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Caryn L. Hebets and J. Gregory Bowman represented the United States.