Jury Convicts Valley Men In Large Scale Marijuana Conspiracy
|Oct. 25, 2012|
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Roberto Garza, 42, Jesus Gregorio Lopez aka Goyo Lopez, 62, and Ramon Zamora, 51, have been convicted in a large-scale drug-trafficking conspiracy, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its verdicts in Corpus Christi just a short time ago after seven days of trial and less than seven hours of deliberation.
Garza, Lopez, both of Mission, and Zamora, of Rio Grande City were convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana from 2003 until their arrests in June 2012.
The convictions bring to a total of 12 men convicted in relation to this organized crime drug enforcement task force investigation.
Previously, nine co-conspirators charged in the same indictment entered pleas of guilty to charges related to their participation in this conspiracy. Flavio Tamez, 47, and Jesus Marroquin, 49, both of Rio Grande City; Samuel Garcia, 51, Onofre Lopez, 37, Jose Figueroa, 35, Edwardo Munoz, 35, and Rene Salazar, 42, all of Falfurrias; Alejandro Garza, 42, of Mission; and Adrian De la Garza, 41, of Sullivan City, are currently awaiting sentencing in December.
The defendants were arrested in June 2012 on charges relating to their participation in a large-scale South Texas drug-trafficking organization. The criminal organization that employed the defendants specialized in avoiding the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint by using ranches adjacent to the checkpoint. Tamez, Alejandro Garza, Roberto Garza and Marroquin have been identified as leaders in this criminal organization. Evidence presented at trial by the government included 19 marijuana seizures directly linked to this organization, totaling more than three tons of marijuana seized by law enforcement. Further, evidence presented showed that an outdoor restroom (outhouse) was used by the organization to hide marijuana on one of the ranches. The outhouse has a secret underground compartment where they stored up to 1000 pounds of marijuana at a time. Evidence also included multiple vehicles used by this organization to circumvent the checkpoint, including trucks and multiple all-terrain vehicles.
Also, Tamez agreed to the criminal forfeiture of two pieces of real property located in Starr County - a house built by Tamez using drug proceeds and one a business used by Tamez to conduct his drug business. Tamez also agreed to forfeit $230,000 in currency seized from a safe deposit box where Tamez hid drug proceeds. Further, Marroquin agreed to criminally forfeit several pieces of jewelry and $6,000 in currency seized during his arrest.
In addition, the government filed criminal forfeiture proceedings against three real properties, including a ranch owned by Jesus Gregorio Lopez. The government is also seeking a money judgment in the amount of $500,000 against Roberto Garza. The real properties involved in this conspiracy were either purchased with drug proceeds or used to facilitate the drug-trafficking activity. The ranch known as “Campo de Goyo” or the “Carolina Ranch,” was specifically used by this organization as a staging area to store large quantities of marijuana before proceeding through the ranches around the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint.
Roberto Garza, based upon the amount of marijuana involved and his criminal history, faces no less than 20 years and a maximum of life imprisonment.
Jesus Gregorio Lopez and Zamora, based upon the amount of marijuana involved, face no less than 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment.
Sentencing has been set for Jan. 23, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. All defendants, with the exception of Jesus Gregorio Lopez, have been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
The investigation leading to the criminal charges was conducted in Corpus Christi lead by Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service--Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Texas Department of Public Safety, Brooks County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, Sheriff’s Offices in Jim Hogg and Hidalgo Counties, Jones Ranch Security Personnel, Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the United States Marshals Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie K. Hampton.