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ANGELA DODGE
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March 15, 2011

LONGTIME FUGITIVE FINALLY CAUGHT AND BROUGHT TO JUSTICE

(LAREDO, Texas) – Martin Nino, fugitive from justice for nearly seven years, has been caught and convicted of conspiracy to possess and possession with the intent to distribute approximately 1,000 pounds of marijuana, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Nino pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Laredo.

Nino was one of six originally named in a two-count indictment that was filed in October 2004. Nino was responsible for organizing and recruiting drivers to transport heavy loads of narcotics further north. Undercover agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had been conducting surveillance on Nino. One undercover agent introduced himself to Nino and a series of recorded calls were placed which reflected Nino as the organizer. Nino had made a final offer to the undercover agent, who was recruited as a driver, to transport 1,000 pounds of marijuana to the Houston area for $15,000. At the time the marijuana was being loaded into the trailer, DEA special agents made an arrest on all parties after receiving the arrest signal from the undercover agent. Nino was not on the scene at the time of the arrest and had arranged for co-defendants Gregorio Gutierrez, Javier Munoz and Ruben Rodriguez to be on scene loading the marijuana, which marked the beginning of Nino being on the run. An arrest warrant was issued on Oct. 6, 2004.

Nino was a deported Mexican alien and thought be residing in Mexico; however, federal agents discovered Nino was arrested on Jan, 2, 2010, by local authorities in Baton Rouge, La. With the help of the United States Marshals Service, he was subsequently brought to this jurisdiction on Jan. 25, 2011, to face these charges. After hearing all the evidence against him, Nino decided to plead guilty.

Nino is scheduled for sentencing before United States District Court Judge Micaela Alvarez on June 7, 2011. As the recruiter and organizer, Nino faces a statutory mandatory minimum of five years up to a maximum of 40 years in federal prison, up to a $2 million fine and a minimum four years of supervised release. He may also face additional enhancements for obstruction of justice. After serving his time in custody, it is likely that Nino will be deported back to Mexico.

Munoz, Rodriguez and Gutierrez all pleaded guilty. Judge Alvarez sentenced Munoz and Rodriguez to 30 and 60 months, respectively, each to be followed by a four-year-term of supervised release, while Gutierrez was sentenced to 108 months and three years of supervised release. Two co-defendants decided to take their cases to trial and were acquitted of all charges.

Assistant United States Attorney Andy Guardiola was the original prosecutor. Assistant United States Attorney Suntrease Williams, who was assigned to handle Nino as a fugitive case, is now prosecuting the case.

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