News and Press Releases

Leader in 3000+ Pound Marijuana Case Handed Sentence

April 2, 2012

HOUSTON – Roel Reyna, 46, of Rio Grande City, Texas, has been sentenced to federal prison for his role in a case involving the smuggling of more than a ton of marijuana concealed in pallets of watermelons, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Reyna was charged along with Humberto Reyes, 51, Leonel Pena, 35, both of Houston; and Victor Pena, 30, Orlando Ramirez, 41, Lauro Cisneros, 27, all of Roma, Texas. All previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Today, U.S. District Judge David Hittner sentenced Reyna to a total of 70 months in prison.

Cisneros, Reyes and Leonel Pena were previously sentenced 120, 46 and 70 months in prison, respectively. In addition, Leonel Pena received an additional sentence of 18 months for violation of supervised release in another case which will be served consecutively to the sentence imposed in this matter. Ramirez and Victor Pena are set for sentencing on April 12 and May 15, 2012, respectively. 

Beginning in June 2011, these men began transporting marijuana via tractor trailer and concealed in pallets of watermelons from McAllen, Texas, to a warehouse in Houston. Once the marijuana reached the warehouse, they would unload the pallets, remove the marijuana and load the marijuana into other vehicles to be delivered for sale.

At their respective plea hearings, the government described how agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted surveillance of the warehouse on July 28, 2011. At that time, Leonel Pena, Victor Pena and Cisneros unloaded pallets of watermelons from a tractor trailer, while Ramirez conducted counter-surveillance in the area around the warehouse. Once the pallets were unloaded and the warehouse doors secured, agents observed Reyes and Roel Reyna drive past the warehouse at a slow rate of speed as Reyna was showing Reyes the location. Reyes returned to the warehouse later in a white panel van which he pulled into the warehouse. Agents then followed the van as it left the warehouse and stopped it a short time later. Agents discovered 84 bales of marijuana inside, while a search of the warehouse resulted in the seizure of an additional 53 bales of marijuana. The total weight of the marijuana seized was 3,158 pounds.

All those sentenced today have been in custody since their arrests where they will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. A seventh defendant, Agapito Lopez, 46, of Roma, Texas, remains a fugitive and a photo of him as attached.Anyone with information as to his whereabouts is asked to contact DEA at 713-693-3000. He is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

The case was investigated by the DEA, FBI and the Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard D. Hanes as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

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