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May 24, 2011


(LAREDO, Texas) – The last of nine charged and convicted for their roles in a marijuana trafficking conspiracy has been sentenced to prison, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

United States District Judge Micaela Alvarez today sentenced Joel Garcia Jr., 25, of Realitos, Texas, to 60 months for his role in a marijuana trafficking conspiracy. Garcia is the last of a total of nine charged for their involvement in transporting more than 4000 kilograms of marijuana from April 1, 2006, to Oct. 1, 2009.

A three-year investigation conducted by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations, the Jim Hogg County Narcotics Task Force, the Central South Texas Criminal Investigations Unit and the United States Border Patrol lead to the return of a 12-count indictment in July 2010. The investigation began in April 2006 after a 394-kilogram load of marijuana was seized at a ranch located 18 miles south of Hebbronville, Texas. The load of marijuana was being transported in a pickup truck driven by Rene Chavera. Further investigation by agents revealed that an organization based in Roma, Texas, was sending pickup trucks loaded with marijuana through the ranches located throughout the Hebbronville, Texas, area. By driving the trucks loaded with marijuana through these South Texas ranches, the organization was able to avoid the various United States Border Patrol checkpoints located in the area.

The others charged and convicted - Jose Luis Lopez Jr., 29, Irving Servando Garcia, 27, Eliseo Canales, 35, all of Roma; Jose Maria Viera, 25, Andy Janssen, 29, both of Premont; Joel (Cuate) Garcia Sr., 50, of Realitos, Texas; Rene Chavera, 25, of Benavides, Texas; and Jaime Arredondo, 24, of New Braunfels, Texas, were sentenced in April 2011 to prison terms ranging from 30-120 months for their involvement in trafficking marijuana

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andy Guardiola.

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