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Nov. 19, 2012

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Mission Furniture Store Owner Convicted in Cocaine Trafficking and Money Laundering

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Jose Francisco Serna, of Mission, has entered pleas of guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Serna was arrested in August 2012 after having been a fugitive in Mexico for several years. The charges relate to his participation in a South Texas drug-trafficking and money laundering organization that used his furniture store as a business front to launder illegal drug proceeds.

Serna once owned and operated a retail furniture store in McAllen and began a drug venture on the side of his legitimate business with two of his associates in the furniture business. Serna later created Four Seasons Transport, a legitimate trucking company to transport secreted cocaine and currency between Mission and Atlanta, Ga. Cocaine was hidden in an axle of the tractor truck and was removed at “stash houses” in Lithonia and Savannah, Ga. Serna would then receive drug proceeds at his ranch in Mission. The drug proceeds were hidden in the same axle compartment of the tractor truck while being transported south. Serna used multiple bank accounts to hide the drug proceeds he had received, including his furniture business’ account. 

Based upon the amount of the alleged cocaine involved, he faces no less than 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. Regarding the money laundering scheme, Serna also faces a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Serna has agreed to the criminal forfeiture of his ranch, a piece of real property located in Hidalgo County valued at more than $600,000, which was used by Serna to conduct his drug business.  

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation leading to the criminal charges was conducted in Corpus Christi lead by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service--Criminal Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie K. Hampton.