Leader in Multi-Million Dollar Cocaine Conspiracy Gets Nearly 22 Years in Federal Prison
|Aug. 15, 2012|
HOUSTON – The leader of a Houston-based drug trafficking organization responsible for the distribution of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and the transportation of millions of dollars in drug proceeds to drug traffickers in Mexico will now serve 262 months in federal prison, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Isaias Gallegos aka MIckey, 32, of Sugar Land, Texas, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and aiding and abetting money laundering and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge David Hittner just a short time ago.
Judge Hittner sentenced Gallegos to 262 months on the conspiracy count and 240 months for the money laundering count, to be served concurrently. The sentence will be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release.
The year and a half long Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation resulted in the identification of Gallegos as the leader of the family-operated conspiracy. His wife Suleyka Gallegos, 32, also of Sugar Land, was charged as being responsible for the receipt and sale of cocaine from Mexican drug sources to distributors in Houston and throughout the United States along with his sister Wendy Perez Gallegos, 35, and brother-in-law Julio C. Villanueva-Barbosa, 40, both of Laredo, Texas; his cousin, Fernando Gallegos-Saucedo, 23, and his uncle, Francisco Paniagua Romero, 38, both of Houston. Alvaro Dalberto Palma, 33, and Keith Jamail Sonia, 36, both of Houston, were identified as cocaine distributors for the organization, while Jorge Alberto Briones, 40, and Mario Garza Mora, 37, both of Laredo, and J. Jesus Santos, 40, of Houston, were identified as transporters of drug proceeds between Houston and Mexican drug traffickers.
From November 2009 through April 2010, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents seized $1,844,760 in drug proceeds from couriers transporting the funds from the Gallegos organization in Houston to drug traffickers in Mexico. The investigation culminated on April 28, 2010, in the service of search warrants for locations identified as being utilized by the organization and the seizure of 147 kilograms of cocaine, an additional $160,704 in drug proceeds and 11 assault rifles. A residence purchased with drug proceeds in the name of Suleyka Gallegos on the 5200 block of Ireland in Houston also uncovered a drug manufacturing operation utilized by the organization in which a non-controlled substance was added to the cocaine and then repackaged to appear as if it was in its originally shipped purity, allowing the organization to command higher prices for lower quality cocaine.
Sonia and Mora were sentenced on Jan. 17, 2012, to 135 and 41 months in federal prison, respectively. Villanueva-Barbosa was sentenced on Feb. 1, 2012, to 87 months. Sonia and Villanueva-Barbosa pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine along with Suleyka Gallegos and Palma, who were sentenced to 87 and 120 months, respectively. Garza pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting conspiracy to money launder as did Perez Gallegos, Gallegos-Saucedo, Romero, Briones and Santos who were sentenced to 87, 151, 210, 97 and 97 months, respectively.
In addition to the drug proceeds, multiple automobiles utilized by the organization in connection with their drug trafficking activities, as well as the residence located on Ireland in Houston were also seized by agents during the course of the investigation.
This OCDETF investigation dubbed Operation GoodRum was conducted by HSI and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Rick Hanes prosecuted the case.