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Dec. 21, 2010

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(McALLEN, Texas) - Francisco Meza-Rojas, 45, of McAllen, Texas, was sentenced to serve 324 months in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons as punishment for his involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy which spanned a period of at least eight years dating back to 1996, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane handed down the sentence today in federal court in McAllen.

Meza-Rojas, along with Jose Moncerrat Narvaez, were identified as the leaders of the smuggling cell which operated on the United States side of the Rio Grande River between Granjeno and Penitas, a rural area south of Mission, Texas. The part of the larger organization run by Meza-Rojas and Narvaez specialized in the transportation of controlled substances from the edge of the Rio Grande River to locations in the Mission and McAllen areas where they would be held until handed over to the owners of the drugs. Meza-Rojas utilized his brothers, as well as others, to act as lookouts during the smuggling operations. Meza-Rojas would strategically place his workers along the smuggling route to call out the locations and movements of law enforcement vehicles throughout the area. It was also not uncommon for members of the organization to utilize their vehicles in their attempts to prevent law enforcement from stopping the drivers who were transporting the smuggled drugs.

Meza-Rojas, a former police officer with the City of McAllen, who was initially arrested on the charges contained in his indictment in April 2006, made headlines in September 2006 when he orchestrated the escape of six prisoners, including himself, from the East Hidalgo Adult Detention Center in La Villa, Texas. Meza-Rojas was a fugitive for many years in Mexico until his capture and subsequent extradition to the United States in July 2010. On Oct. 5, 2010, Meza-Rojas pleaded guilty to count one of the indictment which charged him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana.

Meza-Rojas is the last of those currently in custody to be sentenced. Ruben Meza, 44, Juan Antonio Meza, 40, Jesus Lorenzo Meza, 37, and Miguel Hernandez-Rojas, 50, all of Mission and all brothers of Meza-Rojas, were previously sentenced to various terms of imprisonment ranging from 235 months to 27 months. One brother, Osvaldo Meza, 38, of Mexico, remains a fugitive.  Numerous other individuals including Jorge Enrique Macias-Nevarez, 46, of Mexico, Jorge A. Duarte, 32, of Honduras, and Jose Moncerrat Narvaez, 46, Arturo Javier Hinojosa, 29, Robert Lee Rodriguez, 32, Andres Solis, 46, Moises A. Lopez, 30, and Juan Pablo Rangel, 45, all of Mission, Texas and the surrounding area, were previously sentenced to various terms of imprisonment ranging from 262 months to 46 months. In addition to Osvaldo Meza, there are two additional fugitives remaining in the case. Meza and others charged but not as yet convicted are presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.  

The Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation which led to the indictment in this case was conducted by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies including the Texas Department of Public Safety, Customs and Border Protection-Office of Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the Starr County District Attorney’s Office, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as well as police departments in Mission, McAllen, Weslaco, Pharr and San Juan.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Toni Trevino. 


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