Jan. 22, 2010
TWENTY-TWO ARRESTED AS A RESULT OF OPERATION “RELOAD”
(LAREDO, Texas) – Two federal indictments returned under seal in December 2009 as a result of Operation “Reload” have been partially unsealed following an enforcement actions which have lead to the arrest of a total of 22 defendants in Laredo, San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Operation “Reload” is a long-term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division with the invaluable assistance and cooperation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Marshals Service, the United States Border Patrol, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Laredo Police Department and the Webb County Sheriff’s Office.
The indictments charge the alleged members of this drug and money laundering organizations with various federal criminal offenses, including engaging in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute multi-kilograms quantities of marijuana and cocaine, conspiracy to launder drug proceeds and numerous other controlled substance violations and firearms offenses. The alleged illegal conduct occurred during an eight-year period beginning in 2002.
“Operation Reload is an example of how successful multi-agency investigations can be,” Johnson said. “Due to the efforts of committed and dedicated law enforcement officers, an extensive drug smuggling and money laundering organization has been dismantled.”
The indictments allege the defendants are members of a drug trafficking organization operating out of the Laredo area engaged in a conspiracy to distribute bulk quantities of marijuana and cocaine from the Laredo area to distribution venues such as Dallas, Houston and Florida and laundering large sums of money - estimated at more than $10 million - transported from points of drug distributions to Laredo and Mexico. The conspirators allegedly used commercial tractor trailers as well as other means to transport and deliver cocaine and marijuana to distributors. The indictment further alleges that following the delivery of shipments of cocaine and marijuana to the various distributors, co-conspirators collected the drug profits, concealed them in tractor trailers or on their person or in personal vehicles and transported them in personal vehicles, commercial buses or tractor trailers back to the Laredo area.
Drug proceeds were allegedly laundered by conducting financial transactions via Western Union wire transfers and by utilizing numerous bank accounts to make cash deposits and withdrawals of drug proceeds. The withdrawn proceeds were allegedly used not only to promote the drug trafficking activities of the organization but also to purchase vehicles and real property designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, ownership, control and source of the drug proceeds.
In addition to the criminal charges, the indictments seek to forfeit all property, real and personal, involved in the offenses charged to include, but not limited to, approximately $50 million. In conjunction with the round up, at least 12 high end vehicles were seized to include two Mercedes Benz vehicles, two King Ranch Trucks, a Shelby mustang and a Hummer.
The first five arrests as a result of these indictments were made on Jan. 7, 2010, in Laredo, the Fort Worth area and in San Antonio. Charged with conspiracy to launder money are Leandro Salas-Galaviz, aka Daniel Obregon, 35, and his wife Mayra Lopez, 29, both a Mexican nationals illegally residing in Laredo. Galaviz is the alleged head of a drug transportation cell operating out of Laredo, who, according to allegations in the indictment, used the alias Daniel Obregon when conducting drug and money laundering activities including opening bank accounts and conducting financial transactions. Galvaiz and his wife were arrested in Laredo and have both been ordered detained without bond pending trial by U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott Hacker. Galaviz’s mother, Josefina Galaviz, 54, and his sister, Yesicca Magana, 29, who reside in Keller, Texas, were also arrested for their alleged involvement in the money laundering conspiracy. Both women appeared before a U.S. Magistrate in Dallas and have been ordered temporarily detained pending their removal to Laredo and a detention hearing. A fifth defendant, Alberto Garcia Salinas, 50, of San Antonio, was arrested in San Antonio and is awaiting a detention hearing there.
The following 17 defendants charged with various counts were arrested by teams of investigating agents on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010:
Jose De Jesus Romero, 32, of Mexico
Omar Compean, 44, of Laredo
Blanca Estela Compan, 39, of Laredo
Javier Hugo Perez, 54, of Laredo
Oscar Rodriguez Avila, 46 of Laredo
Bernardo Pineda Lopez, 50, of Laredo
Noel Omar Barrera, 27, of Laredo
Juan Manuel Lara, 38, of Laredo
Sergio Arturo Solis, 42, of Laredo
Jesus Enrique Salazar, 47, of Laredo
Justino Loredo Vera, 47, of El Cenizo, Texas
Felipe Ruiz, 28, Mexican National residing in Rodriguez, Texas
Eduardo Guadalupe Martinez, 32, of Laredo
Gloria Guevara, 30, of Laredo
George Albert Dominguez, 45, of Laredo
Alejandro Alcaraz, 26, of Laredo
Sergio Alberto Ortegon, 32, of Laredo
Each appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Saldana today and have been ordered temporarily detained without bond pending detention hearings which has been scheduled for Jan. 27-28, 2010.
Assistant U. S. Attorney Mary Lou Castillo is prosecuting the cases.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
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