Seven Arrested for Marijuana Drug Trafficking
|Nov. 16, 2011|
HOUSTON – Seven individuals have been arrested after they were observed unloading approximately 1600 pounds of marijuana, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Robert Rutt, special-agent-in-charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI).
The criminal complaint, filed today, charges Rene Salinas Saenz, 34, Jesus Alvarado Galvan, 34, and Otoniel Botella, 34, all of Houston; along with Jose Alberto Barrera Jr., 31, Jorge Luis Flores, 33, Jose Hinojosa-Galvan, 31, all of Roma, Texas; and Luis Faustino Garcia, 51, from Mexico, with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance involving more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.
The arrests follow a month-long undercover investigation during which an undercover agent posing as a truck driver was hired by Barrera to drive a trailer loaded with marijuana from the Rio Grande Valley area to Houston. The complaint alleges that the undercover agent was provided with the loaded trailer and instructions to drive it to Houston where Barrera would take control of it. On Nov. 15, 2011, Berrera picked up the tractor with the attached loaded trailer.
According to the complaint, the men unloaded the marijuana from the trailer at a property located on the 13200 block of Reeveston in Houston and loaded it into two separate vehicles. The individuals then drove away from the property with the marijuana loaded within, at which time they were stopped by law enforcement officers and the marijuana was seized.
The seven men taken into custody yesterday are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge George C. Hanks Jr. later today or tomorrow. At that time, the court will determine whether the defendants will be released on bond or remain in custody at the request of the United States pending preliminary and detention hearings.
If convicted of the conspiracy offense, the defendants each face a mandatory minimum punishment of five years to a maximum of 40, without parole, and a $5 million fine.
The charges are the result of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation conducted by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies ICE-HSI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Houston and Pasadena Police Departments, Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Eric Smith.
A complaint is an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.