Jury Convicts Final Raza Unida Gang Member in Meth Trafficking Conspiracy
|Feb. 22, 2012|
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Orlando Garcia, 33, of Corpus Christi, Texas, has been convicted by a federal jury of drug trafficking in a conspiracy that involved gang leadership both inside and outside of the Texas prison system, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its guilty verdict just a short time ago after two days of trial and one hour of deliberation.
Garcia was the final defendant to be found guilty in a seven-count indictment that involved 13 other defendants.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony that Garcia acted as an intermediary between drug traffickers in Arkansas and Karlos Bouchot, a ranking Raza Unida member who was in prison at the time of the conspiracy. Jurors heard recordings made pursuant to a court-ordered interception of phone calls that Bouchot made to Garcia while in prison. In these phone calls, Garcia stated he had arranged for six pounds of methamphetamine to be purchased in Arkansas. The buyers of the methamphetamine were to pay more than $20,000 per pound of methamphetamine.
Garcia and Bouchot agreed they, as well as the gang itself, stood to make thousands of dollars in profit from this one deal alone. Jurors also heard Garcia state that he was dealing methamphetamine he received from gang members in Corpus Christi. The jury also heard that the agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) later discovered this cache of methamphetamine at a stash house in Corpus Christi. The methamphetamine was more than 90 percent pure and weighed more than 12 pounds. Garcia and another defendant, Johnny Joe Guerra, searched the stash house after federal agents raided it. Guerra, a Raza Unida leader, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in federal prison for his involvement in the conspiracy. Bouchot also pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing on March 9, 2012.
Others awaiting sentencing on March 9, 2012, are Preston Mascorro, Jerome Aranda, Israel Plazola, Michael Ornelas, Valerie Botello, Jose Manuel Ledezma, who all also previously entered pleas of guilty. The remaining five defendants charged in relation to this case, Rudy Rodriguez, Anthony Torres, Ricky Alejandro, Martin Guardiola III and Stephen Ayala, have all also pleaded guilty and already been sentenced to 324, 177, 150, 190 and 87 months, respectively.
Senior United States District Judge Janis Graham Jack, who presided over this trial and case, has set Garcia’s sentencing for May 3, 2012, at which time he faces up to life in prison and an $8 million fine. He will remain in custody pending that sentencing.
These convictions were the result of an ongoing investigation dubbed Operation Prison Cell being conducted jointly by special agents with ICE-HSI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and officers of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Office of Inspector General and the Corpus Christi Police Department Gang and Organized Crime Units.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Patterson and Michael Hess.