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THIRTEEN GUILTY IN FEDERAL DRUG TRAFFICKING RING
Defendants face up to Life in federal prison
BEAUMONT, Texas – U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced that 13 persons involved in a major drug conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas have pleaded guilty.
Kenneth Patrick Collins, 44, of Houston; Orlando Pineda-Espinoza, 26, of Houston; Alejandro Ortiz, 33, of Houston; and Aurelio Pineda-Moreno, 30, of Watertown, PA, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine today before U.S. District Judge Ron Clark. They each face up to Life in federal prison at sentencing.
According to information presented in court, in August 2008, an investigation began into a Houston-based drug trafficking organization that was distributing large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine throughout Houston and the Beaumont, Texas area. In June 2009, agents began utilizing court-ordered telephone intercepts in an effort to determine those involved in the conspiracy, the amount of drugs being distributed and the source of the drugs. Law enforcement officers and agents also participated in undercover purchases of methamphetamine and revealed at least 40 persons were involved in the conspiracy and that no less that 113 pounds of methamphetamine and 31 kilograms of cocaine were distributed. At least 20 kilograms of cocaine was seized through undercover buys and during the execution of search warrants and arrests. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on June 3, 2010, charging 35 defendants with various drug trafficking charges. An additional five defendants were named in a superseding indictment on Nov. 3, 2010. Sentencing dates have not been set.
On Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, Mohammad Zahid, 54, John Anthony Molenda, 28, and German Rios Gomez, 26, all of Houston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. On Friday, Jan. 29, 2011, Juan Carlos Soto, 27, of Houston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine; David Ruiz, 31, of Hearne, Texas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine; and Carlos Cesar Morillo, 36, Amando Garcia-Duarte, 35, Jose Carmen Duarte-Bautista, 50, and Jorge Duarte-Garcia, 28, all of Houston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. They all face up to Life in federal prison. Sentencing dates have not been set.
This case is being investigated by the DEA, ICE, ATF, Texas Department of Public Safety, Orange County Sheriff's Office, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the Chambers County Sheriff's Office, the Beaumont Police Department, U.S. Marshal's Service, Brazoria County Sheriff's Office, Galveston County Sheriff's Office, Galveston Police Department, Houston Police Department, and the Texas Rangers. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Englade and Antonetta Stancu.