Last Defendant Pleads Guilty in Brooks County Marijuana Case
|Dec. 22, 2011|
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Lamar Gonzalez, 38, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. With this plea just a few minutes ago, all five Brooks County men have been convicted. Edward Mata, 27, Richard Scott Patton, 40, Luis Andres Longoria, 39, and Servando Guerra, 61, pleaded guilty earlier this month.
These men, all residents of Falfurrias, Texas, were part of an organized effort to transport marijuana from September 2008 to January 2011 through ranches around the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint using four-wheel-drive vehicles known as gators to avoid detection. Agents determined that this organization was led by Jose Maria Carbajal Jr., 41, also of Falfurrias, who was prosecuted in a separate case and is pending sentencing.
During his plea today, the government described how this organization used four-wheel-drive vehicles known as gators in their criminal enterprise. The gators would be loaded with marijuana at a point south of the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint. Then, the gators would be piloted through ranches to a point north of the checkpoint so the marijuana could be transported via ordinary means further into the United States for distribution. During the investigation, one of the marijuana-laden gator vehicles was apprehended and another was found abandoned on a ranch.
According to the government’s account of the group’s activities today, the organization was led by Carbajal Jr. from his Brooks County ranch. Gonzalez both drove loads of marijuana through ranches and acted as a scout for the organization.
United States District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who accepted the guilty plea today, has set sentencing for March 16, at 9:30 a.m. At that time, Gonzalez faces a minimum of 20 years and maximum of life in federal prison and a maximum $20 million fine.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigation and the Brooks County Sheriff’s Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Muschenheim as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.