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Two Sentenced for Southeast Texas Marijuana Bust
BEAUMONT, Texas – Two men have been sentenced to federal prison for their part in a wide-scale drug trafficking conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales.
Ramon Anthony Nunez, 38, of Allentown, PA, pleaded guilty on Sep. 22, 2010, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison on May 9, 2011 by U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. Nunez was also ordered to forfeit a vehicle and over $1.5 million
Jesus Manuel Castillo, 39, of Jennings, Florida, pleaded guilty on Sep. 13, 2010 to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison on May 9, 2011 by U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. Castillo was also ordered to forfeit $1.5 million.
Evidence presented in court showed that in 2006 and 2007, the conspiracy was responsible for shipments of marijuana in excess of 66,000 pounds. The marijuana, supplied by the Gulf Cartel, was smuggled from Mexico into the southeast Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and was staged in San Benito and Devine, Texas. From there, it was transported by commercial trucks through the Eastern District of Texas to Georgia, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Previously, trucker-driver, Brian Holmes, 51, of Austell, Georgia, was convicted on Oct. 4, 2010, of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, two counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit an 18-wheeler and $1.5 million.
Co-defendant, Gilberto Guerra, III, 36, of McAllen, Texas, pleaded guilty on Sep. 22, 2010, to attempting to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison.
According to information presented in court, on Sep. 15, 2007, federal agents stopped a vehicle registered to Holmes which contained over 6,000 pounds of marijuana. Further investigation revealed that Holmes was involved in a major marijuana distribution enterprise responsible for bringing thousands of pounds of marijuana through the Eastern District of Texas for distribution throughout the country. Guerra owned a stash house in the Rio Grande Valley which was used in the conspiracy to store drugs. Nunez was responsible for receiving tons of marijuana in Pennsylvania that authorities traced to the Gulf Cartel in Mexico. Castillo assisted in packaging the marijuana for interstate shipment, and arranged logistics for the drivers and other co-conspirators. He was also involved in financial transactions for the drug trafficking enterprise.
This case was investigated by ICE/HSI, Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service, DEA, Orange County Sheriff's Office Drug Interdiction Unit, Texas Department of Public Safety, Jefferson County Crime Lab, U.S. Border Patrol, ATF, and the Allentown, PA Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall L. Fluke and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Baylor Wortham.