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April 25, 2012

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Man Sentenced to Nearly 25 Years for Drug Conspiracy

McALLEN, Texas – Edgar Daniel Zapata, 31, from Mexico, has been handed a 292- month prison term for his role in the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 3,000 kilograms of marijuana and 66 kilograms of cocaine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Zapata pleaded guilty Sept. 6, 2011.

In addition to his convictions on the drug conspiracy charges, Zapata also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to export 1,800 rounds of ammunition from the United States into Mexico and was sentenced to 240 months to run concurrent with his other sentence. U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane further ordered he serve five years on supervised release following completion of that prison term.

Eight others have also entered guilty pleas in relation to this case, of which five have already been sentenced. Mexican national Arturo Zapata-Ortiz, 52, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana on July 29, 2011, and was later sentenced to 135 months in prison. Jose Rafael Chavira, 35, and Jose Leonso Pecina, 21, both Mexican nationals pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and were sentenced to 168 and 51 months, respectively. Jose David Arturo Reyes-Lopez, 29, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to being an alien in possession of ammunition and was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while Jose Guadalupe Reyes-Martinez, 49 and also a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to exporting ammunition and received a 46-month sentence.  

Rene Alberto Loera, 38, and Santos Isidro De La Paz, 22, are set for sentencing on Friday, April 27, 2012, while Jose Francisco Padilla, 30, is set for Monday, April 30.

The case against Zapata and the other defendants began in February 2011, when a crime stoppers tip led McAllen Police Department Investigators to two residences in McAllen, Texas, where investigators found 66 kilograms of cocaine and 3,267 kilograms of marijuana. In addition to the illegal drugs, law enforcement also found more than 1,800 rounds of .308 caliber ammunition, several hand grenades and a high-caliber, belt-fed machine gun.
The charges against these defendants are the result of an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations and the McAllen Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Leo and Christopher Sully are prosecuting the case.