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Sept. 30, 2010

9 ARRESTED AS A RESULT OF OPERATION TRES HERMANOS

(HOUSTON) - Nine people charged with various counts of trafficking cocaine or marijuana or laundering drug proceeds have been arrested as a result of an 18-month Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed Operation Tres Hermanos, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today along with acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas Hinojosa of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The arrests represent the culmination of Operation Tres Hermanos - a part of Project Deliverance, the largest Department of Justice Special Operations Division (SOD) operation to date targeting Mexican Drug Cartel infrastructure and transportation cells throughout the United States with special emphasis on the Southwest Border. Over the course of the 18-month investigation, Operation Tres Hermanos resulted in investigating agents seizing more than 700 kilograms of cocaine, 8,000 pounds of marijuana, more than $9 million in drug proceeds and the return of this sealed indictment Sept. 8, 2010, as well as a previously returned yet unrelated indictment.

“Operation Tres Hermanos, which led to these arrests, is part of DEA’s continuing efforts to identify and dismantle the command and control structure of drug and money laundering organizations operating in Texas and throughout the country,” said Hinojosa. “The success of this operation is rooted in the commitment of our agents and the superb relationships we have with our federal, state and local partners.

Operation Tres Hermanos, a DEA-led investigation supported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Marshals Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Border Patrol; Customs and Border Protection; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations; Houston Police Department; the sheriff’s offices in Harris, Hidalgo and Ft. Bend Counties; Texas Department of Public Safety as well as the Star County Drug Task Force culminated with enforcement action in Houston and McAllen leading to the arrest of nine persons and the partial unsealing of the indictment. The indictment remains sealed as to others charged but as yet not in custody. Warrants remain outstanding for their arrest.

The three-count indictment alleges the defendants were engaged in conspiracies to possess with intent to distribute hundreds of kilograms of cocaine or laundering millions of dollars in drug proceeds as early as May 2009 through the date of the return of the indictment. Additionally, the indictment seeks to forfeit the interest of some of the defendants in approximately $37 million allegedly derived from the alleged illegal activity.

Nine people are now in custody as a result of Wednesday's enforcement actions in the Houston and McAllen areas. All those arrested have or will appear before a United States Magistrate Judge in the jurisdiction in which they were arrested, at which time the issue of bond will be determined.

Jose Luis Elisero Jr., 35 of Roma, Texas, and Leobardo Ivan Rodriguez, 41, of Edinburg, Texas, are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. Edio Estrada, 47, of Rio Grande City, Texas, is also in custody, charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Each defendant faces no less than 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment if convicted.

Librado Perez, 62, of Rio Grande City, Texas; Angel Refugio Hernandez-Flores, 39, of Spring, Texas; and Erik Raphael Camacho-Gutierrez, 24, and George Luis Delgado, 25, both of Dallas, Texas, are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. Each defendant faces no less than five and up to 40 years imprisonment if convicted.

Carlos Martinez Flores, 40, of Rio Grande City, and Joel Pena Perez, 37, of Corsicana, Texas, are charged with aiding and abetting conspiracy to commit money laundering. Flores and Perez each face up to 20 years imprisonment if convicted.

Project Deliverance originally consisted of 15 SOD operations and more than 141 investigations in 38 federal judicial districts in 30 states across the United States and continues to have the support of Attorney General Holder, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and involve agents of the ATF, DEA, FBI, United States Marshals Service and DHS’s Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations as well as state and local law enforcement agencies and federal and state prosecutors.

Assistant United States Attorney Richard Hanes is prosecuting the case.

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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