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June 10, 2011

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12 arrested in Zapata County during early morning enforcement action

(LAREDO, Texas) – A total of 12 Zapata area residents were arrested today as a result of the return of a sealed indictment by a Laredo grand jury for allegedly conspiring to traffic marijuana, methamphetamine and crack cocaine and conspiring to smuggle cash into Mexico, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

The 11-count indictment, which also includes a notice of intent to forfeit from all of the defendants approximately $18 million as proceeds of the alleged illegal trafficking activity, was returned under seal by a Laredo grand jury on June 7, 2011, and has been unsealed as to those arrested today. The indictment will remain sealed as to others not yet in custody. 

The indictment accuses all those presently in custody of conspiring together for the last five years beginning in June 2006 to possess with intent to distribute a variety of controlled substances and conspiring to transport U.S. currency from the United States to Mexico with the intent to promote drug trafficking. Some of the defendants are also charged in substantive charges alleging possession with intent to distribute various controlled substances ranging from 100 to 1000 kilograms of marijuana, 50 grams of methamphetamine and five grams of crack cocaine on dates within the alleged conspiracy with the most recent date alleged as April 4, 2011.

The indictment is the result of a three-plus-year multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation dubbed Operation Los Lobos involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, FBI, United States Border Patrol, United States Customs and Border Protection, United States Marshals Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, sheriff's offices in Zapata, Webb, Fort Bend and Jim Hogg Counties and police departments in La Joya and El Campo, Texas. The arrests were made today by teams comprised of special agents and officers of the investigative agencies in the Zapata County area.

The defendants arrested today and presently in federal custody are:

Name Age City of Residence
Pedro Navarro, Jr.    36    Zapata, TX
Alex Navarro 21 Zapata, TX
Andres Qunitero-Ortiz aka “Chango 46  Lopeno, TX
Servando Guerrero, Jr. aka “Mariachi” 36  Zapata, TX
Rene Davila   29 Zapata, TX
Leonel Rodriguez aka “La Dona”  41 Zapata, TX
Juan Luis Rivera 29 Zapata, TX
Juan Antonio Valadez, Sr. 53 Zapata, TX
Jose Luis Gonzalez-Chapa 23 Zapata, TX
Judith Zamora  26 Zapata, TX
Claudia Medrano  27 Zapata, TX
Leonides Navarro 21 Zapata, TX

All defendants presently in custody are expected to make their initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Laredo on the morning of Monday, June 13th. The United States will be seeking an order to detain the arrested defendants in custody without bond pending trial on the charges. Warrants remain outstanding for others charged but not as yet in custody.

If convicted of either of the charged conspiracy offenses, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum punishment of ten years and a maximum of life imprisonment without parole, and a $10 million fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arthur “Rob” Jones 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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