April 29, 2010
SEVEN MEMBERS OF ALLEGED HOUSTON DRUG RING ARRESTED AND CHARGED
(HOUSTON) – Seven individuals have been arrested and the charged for their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and Michael Feinberg, acting special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs (ICE) Enforcement Office of Investigations in Houston, announced today.
The arrests of the seven and the execution on Wednesday, April 28, 2010, of four federal search warrants at various locations in Houston and Sugarland, Texas, allegedly associated with the drug organization is the result of a year-long multi-agency investigation. During the investigation, the criminal complaint alleges more than $1.5 million in alleged drug proceeds have been seized by investigating agents and the search warrants executed at four residences identified as allegedly being used to store and distribute cocaine and to count and house drug proceeds resulted in additional money and drug seizures.
“Ultimately, drug smuggling is based solely on money,” said Feinberg. “By partnering with other Houston-based law enforcement agencies, we target the huge profits being made and we reach the top levels of these drug trafficking organizations.”
On Wednesday, April 28, 2010, ICE agents executed search warrants at three residences in Houston located on the 15200 block of Memorial View, the 5200 block of Ireland and 300 block of Branard and a fourth warrant at a Sugarland residence located on the 3300 block of Pecan Point. As a result of that enforcement action, agents seized, according to the criminal complaint, approximately 147 kilograms of cocaine, 11 assault rifles, five pistols, drug ledgers and hydraulic cocaine presses as well as $250,000 in U.S. currency.
The seven persons taken into custody yesterday and charged for their alleged involvement in the drug trafficking organization are Isaias Perez Gallegos Jr., 30, Suleyka Gallegos, 30, both of Sugarland; and Francisco Paniagua Romero, 35, Alvaro D. Palma Jr., 30, Wendy Gallegos, 33, Julio Villanueva, 38, and Fernando Gallegos, 20, all of Houston. All are expected to make their initial appearances before a United States Magistrate Judge later today or tomorrow. At that time the United States will ask the court to set a date for a hearing on the government’s motion to detain all seven defendants in federal custody without bond pending further criminal proceedings.
Conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment with a maximum of life and a $4 million fine.
This ICE-led investigation is being conducted under the Houston Money Laundering Initiative (HMLI) under the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force comprised of agents and officers from ICE, the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Pasadena Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service. HMLI is one of 12 initiatives under HIDTA that specifically targets the money laundering aspect of drug smuggling.
Assistant United States Attorney Richard D. Hanes is prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
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