Houston Federal Jury Convicts Five in Attempted Cocaine Robbery
|Oct. 1, 2012|
HOUSTON – Four Colombian nationals and one Panamanian have been convicted in federal court on drug conspiracy and firearms charges, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The jury returned its verdicts just moments ago following the five-day trial and approximately three hours of deliberations against Carlos Manuel Boria, 36, aka Luis German Rodriguez or aka Victor; Francisco Javier Rodriguez, 26, aka Siver Jesus Cundumi-Bonilla; Edwin Rivera-Otero, 45, aka Luis Angel Maldonado Barroso; Marvin Cesar Carabali-Diaz, 28, aka Alex Omar Aponte-Ortiz; all of Colombia, and Eric Alberto Lewis, 33, of Panama.
All were convicted of aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking crime. All but Lewis were also convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to use a firearm. Boria and Rivera-Otero were also convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Further, on the third day of trial, Boria, Rivera-Otero and Carabali-Diaz entered guilty pleas to aggravated identity theft and false claims to United States citizenship. Carabali-Diaz also pleaded guilty to illegal re-entry to the United States.
At trial, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) testified that they interdicted a group of seven individuals who were preparing to rob a cocaine stash house of multiple kilograms of cocaine. The group was dressed in clothing identifying them as police and planned to use firearms to subdue any occupants of the stash house. Testimony further revealed agents recovered five firearms, four of which were reported as stolen, as well as multiple zip-ties and additional police clothing.
Another person charged in the case previously pleaded guilty and provided testimony at trial and insight into the planning stages of the robbery. The robbery crew met at an apartment before the planned robbery and displayed their police clothing, commenting about who looked the most official. Assignments for the home invasion were doled out and the crew was prepared to forcibly rob the stash house for cocaine. It was then, according to agents, that law enforcement intervened and arrested the crew.
Upon pleading guilty to the other charges on Wednesday, Boria, Rivera-Otero and Carabali-Diaz admitted that at the time of their arrest, they were in possession of fraudulently obtained identification cards and Social Security numbers. Carabali-Diaz further admitted he had previously been deported from the United States after a prior felony conviction.
All defendants now face amendatory minimum of 10 years in federal prison for the drug offenses as well as an additional five years for the firearms convictions which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed. In addition, Boria and Rivera-Otero face another possible 10-year maximum sentence as they were previously convicted felons at the time they possessed the firearms. For the possession of fraudulent identification cards, Boria, Rivera-Otero and Carabali-Diaz each face an additional two years in federal prison, which must be served consecutively. Carabali-Diaz will also face up to two years in prison for the illegal re-entry charge.
U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon, who presided over the trial, has set sentencing for Dec. 21, 2012. All have been in custody since their arrests where they will remain pending that hearing.
This case was investigated by the ATF, United States Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark E. Donnelly and Richard J. Magness prosecuted the case.