July 30, 2010
FOUR CHARGED AS A RESULT OF “OPERATION RELOAD” PLEAD GUILTY
Today’s guilty pleas brings total to 22 convicted
(LAREDO, Texas) – Four key targets of Operation Reload pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and/or money laundering conspiracy charges bringing the total to 22 who now stand convicted for their involvement in a drug trafficking organization responsible for transporting bulk quantities of marijuana and cocaine from the Laredo area to points north in the United States and laundering the proceeds, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed “Operation Reload” spearheaded by the Laredo Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations culminated in the return of two sealed indictments in December 2009 which were unsealed in January 2010 following the arrest of a total of 29 persons. Operation Reload, a long term investigation, targeted alleged members of drug trafficking organizations operating in the Laredo area engaged in distributing bulk quantities of marihuana and cocaine from the Laredo area to distribution venues such as Dallas, Houston and Florida, transporting large sums of money generated by the sale of the drugs from points of drug distributions to Laredo and Mexico, and laundering the proceeds by conducting financial transactions via Western Union wire transfers and by utilizing numerous bank accounts to make cash deposits and withdrawals of drug proceeds, and financial transactions to purchase and sell vehicles and real property.
Today, Omar Compean, 44, the head of a Laredo based drug transportation cell, and his right hand man, Javier Hugo Perez, 54, both of Laredo, Texas, pleaded guilty to drug and money laundering conspiracy charges before United States District Judge Micaela Alvarez. Compean and Perez, who maintained the drug ledgers and coordinated the transportation of marihuana loads, admitted they provided transportation for marihuana loads in excess of 10,000 but less than 30,000 kilograms for the Centeno and Galaviz drug trafficking organizations and laundered the drug proceeds through various bank accounts through financial transactions designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, location, ownership, control and source of the proceeds.
As part of their respective plea agreements, Compean and Perez have agreed to forfeit two ranches, two horse trailers, over $200,000 in cash proceeds, and further agreed to forfeit a total of $16,000,000 to the United States. The government had previously forfeited twelve high end vehicles as a result of Operation Reload including a Mercedes, a Hummer, two King Ranch Trucks and a Shelby Mustang which were used to facilitate drug trafficking or derived from drug proceeds.
Two other defendants, Jesus Enrique Salazar, 47, a driver and scout for drug loads, and Omar Compean’s wife, Blanca Compean, 39, both of Laredo, Texas, also pleaded guilty today. Salazar pleaded guilty the drug conspiracy. Blanca Compean pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge and has agreed to forfeit to the United States any interest in property identified as having been derived from drug proceeds.
These four defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 1, 2010. The 18 who previously pleaded guilty to drug or money laundering charges are Oscar Rodriguez Avila, 46, Bernardo Pineda Lopez, 50, Noel Omar Barrera, 27, Juan Manuel Lara, 38, and Sergio Arturo Solis, 42, all of Laredo; Felipe Ruiz, 28, a Mexican National residing in Rio Bravo, Texas, Eduardo Guadalupe Martinez, 32, Gloria Guevara, 30, George Albert Dominguez, 45, Alejandro Alcaraz, 26, Sergio Alberto Ortegon, 32, all of Laredo, Texas, Albert Salinas, 50, of San Antonio, Texas, Mario Alberto Reyes-Hernandez,23, Mario Alberto Reyes Moya, 50, and Jose De Jesus Romero, 32, of from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Miguel Angel Davalos, 25, and Luis Gerardo Casarez, 38, both of Laredo, Texas, and Hector Guadalupe Rojas, 37, of Dallas, Texas.
The drug trafficking conspiracy conviction carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to a maximum of life imprisonment. A money laundering conspiracy conviction carries a maximum punishment of 20 years imprisonment.
A total of seven defendants are pending trial. Leandro Salas-Galaviz, 35, a/k/a “Daniel Obregon”; Galaviz’s wife, Mayra Lopez, 30; his mother, Josefina Galaviz, 55, all Mexican nationals, and Galaviz’s sister, Yesicca Magana, 30, from Keller, Texas and Norberto Alaniz, 36, of Laredo, are pending trial Oct. 25, 2010 before Judge Micaela Alvarez. Two other defendants charged in a separate indictment arising from Operation Reload, Justino Loredo Vera, 47, of El Cenizo, Texas, and Manuel Moreno Gonzalez, 39, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico are also pending trial later this year.
Assistant United States Attorneys Andy Guardiola and Mary Lou Castillo are prosecuting the case.
These defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
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