14 Land Significant Time in Federal Prison in “Operation Havoc”
|May 21, 2012|
Organizer Gets Nearly 34 Years
LAREDO, Texas – After a lengthy day of hearings before visiting U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood, 14 convicted drug traffickers and/or money launderers have now been sentenced to federal prison, some to significant terms, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Jerry Robinette. Those sentenced today include truck drivers, warehouse employees and others who assisted in supervising and transporting narcotics and/or drug proceeds.
“The sentencing of 14 individuals should be a powerful deterrent to those who engage in the smuggling of drugs and the laundering of its illicit profits,” said Robinette. “These prison sentences are a testament to that effort. We are committed to making our communities safer and we will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to achieve that goal.”
These co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy to distribute bulk quantities of cocaine through the use of commercial tractor-trailers and other means from Texas to Georgia and returned drug proceeds to Laredo, Texas, and into Mexico. During the course of the investigation, agents seized more than $7.5 million in drug proceeds and more than 450 kilograms of cocaine. Agents also seized a drug ledger that attributes the movement/distribution of approximately 12,500 kilograms of cocaine and $41. 9 million in drug proceeds by these and other co-conspirators.
Among those sentenced today include Sergio Segovia, 43, of Laredo, who has a prior drug conviction and occupied a position of organizer within the Laredo-based drug transportation cell. Judge Hood handed him a sentence of 405 months in federal prison which will be followed by 10 years of supervised release. His wife, Elvia Gonzales, 40, and brother, Jose Guadalupe Segovia, 44, both also of Laredo, were also sentenced today and received sentences of 57 and 292 months, respectively. Convicted murderer and fugitive Gregorio Ontiveros III, 32, of Laredo, was arrested as part of this investigation and was handed a 188-month-term of imprisonment which will run concurrent with the 90-year sentence he received for his conviction of a 2000 murder in Webb County. Mexican nationals residing in Laredo - Rosa Ester Garcia, 36, Jose Antonio Gutierrez, 52, Victor Mendoza, 52, Jesus Adrian Alarcon, 36, and Rodolfo Fuentes, 45, were handed 97, 97, 240, 108 and 60-month-terms today. The remaining five sentenced today include Laredoans Francisco Javier Banuelos, 41, Lucio Luis Lara Jr., 49, and Jorge Carrizales, 31, and Jose Manuel Mendez Rocha, 33, and Jose Benjamin Galvan Moreno, 32, both Mexican nationals of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Banuelos, Lara, Carrizales were handed 87, 180 and 87 months, while Rocha and Moreno received 71 and 30 months, respectively.
In addition to the federal terms of imprisonment, each of the defendants were ordered to pay a money judgment in the amount of $41.9 million - the amount shown to have been laundered during the course of the conspiracy. Additionally, the non-U.S. citizen defendants will face deportation from the United States and the cancellation or denial of any previously granted visa or legal residency status.
Sixteen other co-conspirators identified in this investigation are scheduled for sentencing later this year.
Those charged in relation to this case were identified through a long-term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Investigation dubbed “Operation Havoc” spearheaded by Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration and assisted by the U.S. Marshals Service, Laredo Police Department, Webb County Sheriff’s Office, Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Graciela Rodriguez.