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Jan. 30, 2009

FOUR SENTENCED TO LENGTHY PRISON TERMS FOR TRAFFICKING IN COCAINE AND LAUNDERING DRUG PROCEEDS

(LAREDO, Texas) - Four men convicted of conspiring to possess hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and laundering millions in drug proceeds have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Yahir Chavez-Gonzalez, 32, Jesus Lopez-Villarreal, 38, and Armando D. Posada, 20, all Mexican citizens, and Jose R. Villarreal, 34, of Laredo, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute approximately 564 kilograms of cocaine and conspiracy to launder approximately $2.9 million in drug proceeds in March 2008.

At a hearing today, U.S. District Judge Michaela Alvarez sentenced Chavez-Gonzalez, Lopez-Villarreal and Posada all to 168 months in federal prison, while Villarreal will serve a 135-month term of imprisonment. The federal prison terms are served without the benefit of parole and each of the four defendants will also serve a five-year-term of supervised release upon release from prison. 

The charges arose from an investigation conducted by special agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Laredo in March 2008. The investigation identified a warehouse located in Laredo where drug money was being delivered and cocaine was being loaded and shipped to points north in the United States. ICE agents established physical surveillance at the location where cocaine was loaded into a tractor-trailer. Agents followed the tractor-trailer to the IH-35 checkpoint where a canine alerted to the vehicle, and 564 kilograms of cocaine was discovered in the trailer during inspection. Back at the warehouse, ICE agents conducted surveillance on what was later determined to be more than $2.9 million in drug proceeds being off-loaded from another tractor-trailer into a vehicle. ICE agents followed that vehicle and seized the money.  All four of the defendants were involved in the loading, unloading and transportation of the cocaine and the money.

The 2.9 million dollars was forfeited to the United States government in this case.

The defendants, who have all been in custody since their arrest in March 2008, will remain in federal custody to serve their federal prison sentences.

This case was investigated by ICE and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Sardelli.

 

 

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