News and Press Releases

Alleged Leader and Others of Multi-Drug Trafficking Organization Indicted

July 21, 2011

SDTX arrests part of “Project Delirium” targeting alleged members of La Familia Michoacana Drug Cartel

LAREDO, Texas –  Following today’s announcement by the Department of Justice regarding the national results of “Project Delirium,” a 20–month multi-agency law enforcement investigation targeting alleged members of the La Familia Michoacana Drug Cartel, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced the partial unsealing of an 11-count indictment and the arrest of six of those charged including the alleged leader of an organization. The indictment, returned under seal by a Laredo grand jury on June 7, 2011, remains partially sealed pending the arrest of others charged but as yet not in custody. 

The indictment is the result of a 16-month Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed “Operation GM” conducted jointly by the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations.

Ricardo Ramirez-Villa, 40, a Mexican national, is the alleged head of an organization and enterprise operating in the Laredo area since 2005 involved in distributing methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine and laundering allegedly millions in illicit proceeds. He was arrested by investigating agents on Monday, July 11, 2011, and remains in federal custody without bond pending trial of the case. Two others arrested the same day, Arturo Ibarra Rios, 28, and Maria del Rosario Aguirre, 52, both of Laredo, remain in custody pending a decision of the court on the government’s motion to detain them without bond pending trial. Manuel Humberto Montemayor, 31, of Laredo, was arrested on Saturday, July 16, 2011, and remains in custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for today. Juan Ramon Rodriguez, 28, also of Laredo, was arrested on Monday, July 18, 2011. He, too, remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Friday of this week. Yesterday, Victor Manuel Herrera, 30, was arrested in Austin, Texas, where he made his initial appearance and will remain in custody pending a detention hearing. Warrants remain outstanding for others allegedly involved with this organization but as yet not in custody.

All six defendants are charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine and laundering the drug proceeds with the intent to further the criminal activity and to disguise the source of the proceeds as well as to smuggle cash from the United States to Mexico. The indictment also includes a notice of intent to forfeit from all of the defendants approximately $20 million as proceeds of the alleged illegal trafficking activity of the organization. Ramirez-Villa is also charged in several substantive counts with possession with intent to distribute more than more than 30 kilograms of methamphetamine, 6.9 kilograms of heroin and approximately 1.9 kilograms of cocaine on various dates beginning in June 2008 through January 2010 as well as laundering more than $100,000 in May 2009. Montemayor is specifically charged with laundering more than $157,000 in October 2008.   

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute the quantities of controlled substances alleged in the indictment carries a mandatory minimum punishment of 10 years imprisonment up to life as well up to a $10 million fine. Conspiracy to launder drug proceeds carries a maximum punishment of 20 years imprisonment and fines of $500,000 or twice the amount of the financial transaction, whichever is greater. Punishment ranges for the various substantive offenses depends upon the amount of drugs alleged with a maximum of life imprisonment upon conviction.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Graciela Rodriguez Lindberg is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

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