Santeria Follower Convicted of Federal Drug Charges
|Jan. 30, 2014|
BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Francisco Javier Maya, 35, has been convicted of one count of conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute approximately 1,000 pounds of marijuana, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The verdict was returned less than an hour ago after two days of trial testimony and approximately six hours of deliberations.
The jury heard evidence that placed Maya in a conspiracy involving several marijuana loads each totaling between 300 and 1,000 pounds between the summer of 2012 and January 2013. His role in the drug trafficking organization was to provide tractor trailer drivers to drive marijuana loads to locations including Houston and Taylor, Texas. Maya would share in the profits of each load, making between $4000-$5000 per load.
On one occasion, he provided his wife’s bank account number in order for another conspirator to deposit the drug proceeds. Evidence was presented that $6,500 was deposited Maya’s wife’s account on Nov. 28, 2012, right after a successful 300 pound marijuana delivery to Taylor by the organization.
Two cooperating defendants testified at trial that Maya was a follower of the Santeria religion. The jury saw photos of Maya’s residence in Mission, Texas, which depicted numerous images of what was considered to be altars showing glasses of alcohol, knives, a machete, kettles, feathers and substances that appeared to be blood. Testimony also included descriptions of two rituals involving the sacrifice of animals.
In December 2012, Maya had a Santeria priest perform rituals with the organization to “bless” a 1,000 pound marijuana load that was destined for Houston. Tthe “priest’s” decision was for the marijuana load to remain in the Rio Grande Valley. The next day, a second ritual was performed and the 1,000 pounds of marijuana was to be transported to Houston. However, the marijuana was stolen by unknown individuals from the group that evening. After the theft, law enforcement was able to determine the events and conspirators surrounding the drug trafficking organization.
Other members of the organization, Jesus Maruicio Juarez aka Flaco or JJ, Ruben Gonzalez Cavazos aka Mume, Adolfo Loazano Luna aka Chofero, and Alberto Martinez aka Diablo, have already pleaded guilty and are set for sentencing Feb. 5, 2014.
U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle, who presided over the trial, has set Maya’s sentencing for May 7, 2014, at which time he faces a mandatory minimum of five and up to 40 years in prison on each count of convictions. He will remain in custody pending that hearing.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Brownsville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Angel Castro and Jody Young prosecuted the case.