Dec. 10, 2009
25 ALLEGED NARCOTICS MAILERS ARRESTED
(McALLEN, Texas) – The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) together with the Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and the United States Border Patrol have arrested 25 individuals in the past two weeks on federal charges for mailing parcels containing controlled substances through the mail, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. The operation conducted in the McAllen area represents the increasing efforts by the USPIS to protect the U.S. Mail from criminal misuse in South Texas. The USPIS is focusing on drug traffickers that attempt to use the mail to distribute illegal narcotics out of the Rio Grande Valley.
“The American public demands a safe and secure Postal Service and its employees deserve a safe working environment,” said Inspector in Charge Manuel Gonzalez-Latimer. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will continue using a variety of investigative techniques to identify persons responsible for this type of activity and bring them to justice.”
Agents visiting local area post offices and mailing facilities have discovered numerous individuals placing drug laden boxes in the mail to be shipped to varied destinations outside the Rio Grande Valley. Federal criminal charges have been filed against those arrested and the statutory punishment range depends upon the amount of drugs a given defendant is charged with having possessed with intent to distribute. Many of those arrested and charged face up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine if convicted for drug trafficking offenses as alleged in the complaints.
Those arrested include Jesus Castillo, 32, of Donna, Texas; Carlos Ojeda, 48, of San Juan, Texas; Homar De Hoyos, 27, of San Juan, Texas; Manuel E. Gomez, 20, of Pharr, Texas; Juan Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 46, Carmen Serrano, 38, Don Diego White, 33, and Sydia Arroyo, 31, all of McAllen, Texas; Benjamin Gonzalez, 24, Miguel Roman, 26, Esmeralda Balderas, 36, Ramiro Vasquez, 37, Luis Rodriguez, 47, Maria I. Sanchez, 33, Carmen Munoz, 25, and Maria Mendez-Lopez, 36, all of Mission, Texas; Sergio Gonzalez, 26, Miguel Cerda, 19, and Jonathan J. Martinez, 22, all of Corpus Christi, Texas; Javier Zavala, 24, of Weslaco, Texas; Nelson Martinez, 26, of Edinburg, Texas; Juan M. Alaniz, 37, of Brownsville, Texas; San Juanita Villegas, 41, of Alton, Texas; Ivan Van Buren, 45, of Corona, Calif.; and Mauro Martinez, 34, of Mexico.
Roman, Sergio Gonzalez, Jonathan Martinez and Cerda made an initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby and were all detained pending a bond hearing set for Dec. 14, 2009, at 3:00 p.m. The others have or are expected to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the near future.
In addition to the packages being mailed, agents have discovered and seized other drug laden parcels which are being analyzed in an effort to determine the identity of the shippers.
In a separate and unrelated, but similar case, earlier this year, USPIS inspectors arrested five of eight area residents allegedly involved in sending kilogram quantities of marijuana through the U.S. Mail. Criminal charges were filed against these eight. Four have been convicted and are pending sentencing. A fifth is pending trial. The remaining three - Tomas Silva Jr., 32, Roman Vasquez-Mendez, 30, and Eduardo Garcia Quijana aka Lalo, 23 - are fugitives and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests. Quijana is last known to have lived in the Mission, Texas, area while Silva and Vasquez-Mendez are last known to have lived in the Mission and Alton, Texas, areas. Silva is a Hispanic male, 6’0”, and approximately 300 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes. Vasquez-Mendez is also a Hispanic Male, 5’7”, approximately 160 lbs. also with brown hair and brown eyes and he has tattoos on his left hand, chest, right arm, abdomen, left forearm, upper left arm and upper right arm and is missing toes on his right foot.
The investigative efforts are continuing. Anyone with information about persons responsible for mailing narcotics or have information regarding the whereabouts of aforementioned fugitives is encouraged to contact the local Postal Inspection Service at (956) 971-1721. The United States Postal Inspection Service will pay up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals who use the U.S. Mail to distribute narcotics.A criminal complaint is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
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