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Jan. 20, 2010

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(MCALLEN, Texas) – Yet another person allegedly involved in using the U.S. Mail to distribute drugs has been arrested by inspectors of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

Tomas Silva Jr., 32, of Mission, Texas, was originally charged by criminal complaint along with six others in May 2009 with conspiring to mail hundreds of pounds of marijuana through the postal system. He remained at large until his arrest by USPIS Inspectors yesterday morning. He is accused of conspiring with others to possess with the intent to distribute more than 400 pounds of marijuana between July 2008 and May 2009. Silva appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby today and has been ordered detained in federal custody pending a bond hearing set for Jan. 25, 2010, at 3:00 p.m.     

According to the criminal complaint, Silva was allegedly involved in mailing parcels containing contraband and cashing money orders sent and received via the mail as payment for the marijuana. Silva and the others, who have been previously arrested and charged separately, allegedly mailed more than 2000 parcels containing approximately 1657 kilograms of marijuana. Of the parcels mailed by the group, at least 36 were intercepted and seized by postal inspectors. The parcels were similarly packaged and contained raw beans, sealed in the cap of a can of spray foam to create a rattling sound. Additionally, the packages were found to contain expandable foam and marijuana wrapped in thick plastic. Later, the packaging changed to contain mustard, salt and pepper placed in the cellophane as masking agents around the marijuana.   

A conviction for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana carries a statutory punishment range of no less than 10 years up to life imprisonment without parole and a $4 million fine.  

Silva’s arrest is the result of the ongoing efforts of the USPIS to protect the U.S. Mail from criminal misuse in South Texas. Specifically, USPIS is focusing on drug traffickers that attempt to use the mail to distribute illegal narcotics out of the Rio Grande Valley, which is a violation of federal law. Along with agents from the Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force and the Department of Public Safety narcotics unit, postal inspectors are aggressively investigating to identify and arrest persons engaged in the mailing of narcotics.

Anyone having information about persons responsible for mailing narcotics is encouraged to contact the local Postal Inspector's office at 956-971-1721. The USPIS 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.

The case is being investigated by USPIS. Prosecution will be handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Juan F. Alanis and Patricia Rigney.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


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