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Jan. 7, 2011

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(LAREDO, Texas) – After three days of trial testimony and one hour of deliberation, a federal jury has found the middle man involved in securing buyers for a marijuana distribution cell guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. 

A federal jury returned its verdicts to visiting United States District Judge John D. Rainey, who presided over the trial, late yesterday, Jan. 6, 2011, finding Justino Loredo-Vera, aka “Don Tino,” 48, of El Cenizo, Texas, guilty of the drug charge. Loredo-Vera was one of 29 persons indicted by a federal grand jury in Laredo in December 2009. Loredo Vera was accused of being a member of a drug conspiracy that distributed marijuana from the Laredo area to Dallas, Texas. Loredo-Vera faces no less than 10 years and up to life imprisonment without parole and millions in fines at sentencing set April 1, 2011, before U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen. 

With the return of yesterday’s verdict, Loredo Vera becomes the 24th person convicted as a result of a long term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Investigation dubbed “Operation Reload” spearheaded by the Laredo office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations Division.

Through the testimony of DEA agents, the jury heard numerous recordings of court authorized calls intercepted over a five-month-period beginning in March 2007 between a “Don Tino” who spoke extensively to Everd Centeno - identified through testimony as an alleged distribution cell head based in Laredo. Agents identifed “Don Tino” as Justino Loredo-Vera. Through those recordings the jury learned that Loredo-Vera was a close associate of Centeno and acted as a “middleman” securing buyers for the marijuana.

One of those buyers was co-defendant Sergio Arturo Solis. Loredo-Vera would request marijuana loads on behalf of Solis. Centeno would in turn arrange for the requested marijuana to be delivered to Solis’ contact in the Dallas, Texas, area, according to trial testimony. During the recordings, Loredo-Vera and Centeno spoke in code terms to attempt to hide the true nature of their conversations. Through the testimony of investigating agents, the jury learned that when Loredo-Vera needed marijuana for Solis he would speak in terms of having “shirts” delivered.  When Loredo-Vera and Centeno discussed the collection of drug proceeds they would speak in terms of having “paper or receipts or titles” ready for pick up. 

Through the intercepted calls and testimony, the jury also learned that Solis fell behind in making payments for a drug load that Loredo-Vera had acquired for him. When Solis failed to pay, Centeno allegedly secured the assistance of the Mexican Mafia to collect the drug debt. During one of the recorded conversations, Loredo-Vera acknowledged that he would help Centeno in collecting the drug debt by conducting surveillance of Solis’ home and providing information regarding Solis’ whereabouts.
There are five remaining defendants pending trial before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez in this case including Leandro Salas-Galaviz aka “Daniel Obregon,” Galaviz’s wife, Mayra Lopez,  his mother, Josefina Galaviz, his sister, Yesicca Magana, as well as Norberto Alaniz. These defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

The following defendants, all arrested as a result of Operation Reload, stand convicted of drug and money laundering charges after pleading guilty.
1.         Oscar Rodriguez Avila, 46, of Laredo
2.         Bernardo Pineda Lopez, 50, of Laredo
3.         Noel Omar Barrera, 27, of Laredo
4.         Juan Manuel Lara, 38, of Laredo
5.         Sergio Arturo Solis, 42, of Laredo
6.         Felipe Ruiz, 28, Mexican National residing in Rio Bravo, Texas
7.         Eduardo Guadalupe Martinez, 32, of Laredo
8.         Gloria Guevara, 30, of Laredo
9.         George Albert Dominguez, 45, of Laredo
10.       Alejandro Alcaraz, 26, of Laredo
11.       Sergio Alberto Ortegon, 32, of Laredo
12.       Albert Salinas, 50, of San Antonio
13.       Mario Alberto Reyes-Hernandez, 23, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
14.       Mario Alberto Reyes Moya, 50, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
15.       Jose De Jesus Romero, 32, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
16.       Miguel Angel Davalos, 25, of Laredo
17.       Luis Gerardo Casarez, 38, of Laredo
18.       Hector Guadalupe Rojas, 37, of Dallas
19.       Manuel Moreno Gonzalez, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
20        Omar Compean, 44, of Laredo
21.       Javier Hugo Perez, 54, of Laredo
22.       Jesus Enrique Salazar, 47, of Laredo 
23        Blanca Compean, 39, of Laredo

Assistant United States Attorney Mary Lou Castillo is prosecuting the case.

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