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Oct. 11, 2012

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Weslaco Duo Sent to Prison for Cocaine Trafficking

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Two men have been sentenced to federal prison after admitting their guilt in the trafficking of cocaine in Weslaco, Texas, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Jose Santos Casas-Gonzalez Sr., 51, and Rogelio Mata-Ramirez, 50, both previously pleaded to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 29 kilograms. Casas-Gonzalez also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Today, Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head, who accepted their guilty pleas, sentenced Casas-Gonzalez to 188 months on both of his convictions, which will run concurrently. Mata-Ramirez will also serve 188 months. Both men will also serve five-year-terms of supervised release following completion of their prison terms. In handing down the sentence, Judge Head noted that both men were partners in the organization and were equally responsible and both were involved in multiple loads of cocaine that was received from the Zetas and moved throughout the United States. The court also entered a final order of forfeiture for the real property located at 8129 North F.M. 88, in Weslaco - the location of Rio Shallow Boats Inc.

At the their respective plea hearings, Casas and Mata admitted to hiring a driver in December 2010 to transport approximately 30 kilograms of cocaine through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint. They also admitted to utilizing Casas’ business, Rio Shallow Boats Inc., to help in the facilitation of their drug-trafficking activities. Casas-Gonzalez further acknowledged he used the profits from his drug business to make his boat company appear legitimate. Casas admitted to using drug money to buy vehicles, pay for personal expenses and reinvesting into his business, Rio Shallow Boats, Inc. 

Casas and Mata were part of a cocaine conspiracy operating between the Rio Grande Valley to areas north, circumventing the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints by utilizing ranches in South Texas. Casas and Mata were smuggling large amounts of narcotics, primarily cocaine, through and around the Border Patrol checkpoints to various destinations throughout the United States. They trafficked narcotics using tractor-trailers, boats in the Intra Coastal Waterway and in various other ranch vehicles around the Border Patrol checkpoint near Sarita, Texas. Mata is a former employee of the King Ranch and is one of the coordinators for the drug smuggling operations, working for Casas. Casas is supplied with cocaine from the Los Zetas and utilizes Rio Shallow Boats Inc. to fabricate compartments for the smuggling of this contraband in boats, tractor trailers and trucks. 

They have both been in custody where they will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Operation Rio Shallow was conducted in Corpus Christi lead by Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kingsville Special Crimes and Narcotics Task Force, U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Unit, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the United States Marshals Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie K. Hampton.