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May 27, 2009


(LAREDO, Texas) – A self-admitted member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang and a career offender with prior convictions for murder and drug trafficking has been sentenced to a lengthy federal prison term for conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute 74.39 kilograms of marijuana, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Javier Contreras, 32, of Laredo, was convicted on Jan. 13, 2009, by a jury’s verdict following trial.

Today at a hearing before United States District Judge Micaela Alvarez, Contreras was sentenced to 262 months in federal prison without parole to be followed by a six-year-term of supervised release. Because Contreras has two prior convictions for murder in 1995 and possession with intent to distribute marijuana in 1996, he is considered a career offender under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the lengthy sentence imposed today reflects consideration of his criminal status. Contreras has been in federal custody without parole since his October 2008 arrest and will remain in custody to serve his sentence.

During the January trial which resulted in Contreras’ conviction, the United States proved that Contreras coordinated and arranged for Juan Francisco Leal Jr. to transport 74.39 kilograms of marijuana to Dallas, Texas, in March 2006. Through testimony, the jury heard that on March 19, 2006, United States Border Patrol (BP) agents stopped a GMC pickup truck towing a trailer driven by Leal Jr. at the IH-35 checkpoint north of Laredo. After a K-9 alerted on the vehicle indicating the presence of narcotics or other people in the trailer, BP agents searched and found 74.39 kilograms of marijuana in the trailer. Special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continued the investigation and learned that Contreras had coordinated the transport of the marijuana by Leal to the Dallas area. Leal was to be paid $3000 for his services. In a subsequent interview with DEA agents, Contreras admitted to coordinating the transport by Leal of the marijuana.

Leal also stands convicted of the same drug trafficking charge. He was previously sentenced in February 2007 to 37 months in federal prison without parole to be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release. Leal did not testify at trial.

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




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