Raza Unida Gang Member Gets Life in Meth Trafficking Conspiracy
|May 24, 2012|
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Orlando Garcia, 33, of Corpus Christi, Texas, has been sentenced to life in federal prison following his conviction 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. Garcia was convicted in February by a federal jury and is the final defendant to be found guilty in a seven-count indictment that involved 13 other defendants.
Senior District Judge Janis Graham Jack pronounced the sentence just minutes ago in Corpus Christi federal court.
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 Homeland Security Investigations (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 also sentenced to life in federal prison for his involvement in the conspiracy.
These convictions were the result of an ongoing investigation dubbed Operation Prison Cell being conducted jointly by special agents with 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.