Zeta Hitmen Gets Life in Prison
|Oct. 19, 2012|
LAREDO, Texas – Gerardo Castillo-Chavez, aka “Cachetes” or Armado Garcia, and Eduardo Carreon-Ibarra, aka “Negro,” have been sent to federal prison for years following their multiple convictions stemming from a lengthy Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Castillo-Chavez, 26, who hails from Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, Mexico, was convicted on all counts as charged following five days of trial on Jan. 25, 2012. Castillo-Chavez was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 40 years. Carreon-Ibarra, 28, is a Laredo native and was convicted by a plea of guilty on June 1, 2012. Today, he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison to run consecutively to his previous 20-year sentence.
During the trial of Castillo-Chavez, Jurors heard testimony outlining murders and links to the Gulf Cartel and Zetas. After deliberating for approximately six hours, the jury convicted him of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, interstate travel in aid of racketeering (ITAR) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence. Carreon-Ibarra pleaded guilty to interstate travel in aid of racketeering (ITAR) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence.
Today, U.S. District Judge Judge Micaela Alvarez, who presided over the trial and the plea, handed Castillo-Chavez and Carreon-Ibarra their lengthy sentences. At the hearing today, the court reviewed the evidence and testimony presented during the trial. He was further ordered to pay a $8,000 fine.
The charges stemmed from a Feb. 17, 2010, superseding indictment charging Castillo-Chavez and 33 others with 47 counts of conspiracy to kidnap and murder U.S. citizens in a foreign country, drug conspiracy, kidnapping conspiracy, firearms conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, use of juveniles to commit a violent crime, accessory after the fact, solicitation, as well as substantive money laundering, drug trafficking and ITAR charges.
During the week-long trial, jurors heard testimony from several Zeta hitmen who committed murders in Laredo, Texas, as well as Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. In addition, several defendants testified as witnesses for the government and detailed cocaine and marijuana trafficking from Mexico to Dallas, Texas, and New York City. Further testimony outlined murders and attempted murders committed by “sicario” (assassin) cells in Laredo between June 2005 and April 2006. The United States also presented telephone interceptions which described in detail the gruesome murders and disposal of the bodies of two U.S. citizens kidnapped and killed in Nuevo Laredo.
Testimony of several witnesses, including three co-defendants, tied Castillo-Chavez to the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas between November 2005 and May 2009. Their testimony implicated “Cachetes” in the double murder of two males on April 2, 2006, the attempted murders of two others in March 2006 and in the grenade attack of a nightclub in Monterrey, Mexico, where four people were killed.
Carreon-Ibarra was identified as one of two sicario who were about to carry out the assassination of an unknown victim at a local nightclub in February of 2006. Carreon-Ibarra and his partner were found in possession of semi-automatic pistols and two assault rifles, one fully automatic. Carreon-Ibarra was awaiting the delivery of grenades to be used during the assault at the nightclub when officers moved in to arrest the pair at a local hotel.
Of those originally charged in relation to the case, 13 have been convicted. Of those, 13 have also been sentenced with one, Gabriel Cardona-Ramirez, receiving a sentence of life in prison. In addition, four others have also been convicted in separate indictments resulting from the same investigation.
Castillo-Chavez and Carreon-Ibarra will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case against Castillo-Chavez and Carreon-Ibarra was a result of OCDETF investigation dubbed Operation Prophecy spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Laredo Police Department with the assistance of Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Border Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, Webb County Sheriff’s Office and the Webb County District Attorney’s Office. The investigation targeted various cells of the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas with a primary focus on the sicario cells that carried out executions of targeted rival drug members on both sides of the border.
The case was prosecuted in Laredo federal court by Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) José Angel Moreno with assistance throughout the case from AUSAs James Hepburn and Jimmy Ustynoski, who is now with the Northern District of Florida.