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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Texas

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Head of the Gulf Cartel Appears in Beaumont Federal Court on Drug Trafficking Charges

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

 BEAUMONT, Texas - U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that the current head of the Mexican drug trafficking organization, the Gulf Cartel, or Cartel del Golfo, has made an initial appearance in the Eastern District of Texas on drug trafficking charges.

                Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, 23, of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, was arrested by federal agents on Oct. 9, 2014 while shopping in Edinburg, Texas.

                A federal investigation into the large-scale trafficking of illegal drugs from Mexico into the Eastern District of Texas led to the identity of Saenz-Tamez.  The investigation revealed thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana were shipped into the Eastern District of Texas and then to locations across the nation, including Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland and Georgia.

Saenz-Tamez was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 5, 2013 and charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to money launder.  Saenz-Tamez was transported from McAllen, Texas to Beaumont where he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn for a detention hearing and initial appearance today.

If convicted, Saenz-Tamez faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison for the drug charges and up to 20 years in federal prison for the money laundering charge.

"The news that Juan Saenz-Tamez has been arrested is further proof that justice is prevailing in Mexico,” said U.S. Attorney Bales.  “I am encouraged that the efforts of so many law enforcement officers are now paying off. Congratulations to them and I look forward to seeing Saenz-Tamez answer for his crimes in a Beaumont courtroom."

“Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez became the head of the Gulf Cartel following the 2013 arrest of former leader Mario Ramirez-Trevino,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “He moved steadily up the cartel ranks, working as a lookout, record keeper, plaza boss, and finally its leader. Thanks to the quick actions of DEA and our local partners, we were able to identify and safely arrest Saenz-Tamez while he was in the United States.  He oversaw much of the violence and bloodshed that has plagued Mexico and DEA is pleased he will face justice in the United States.”

“The arrest of Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, will put a stop to his role in the distribution of illegal drugs and the laundering of drug proceeds,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz.  “Laundering their profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the distribution of their illegal drugs. IRS CI is proud to provide assistance as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice."

                This case is the result of ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) joint investigations, Operation South Park, Operation La Mano Negra, Operation Frontera Chica and Operation Iceberg.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

This joint law enforcement investigation was led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, United States Marshals Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Attorney General’s Office, National Guard of Texas – Joint Counterdrug, Beaumont Police Department, Houston Police Department, Nacogdoches Police Department,  Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Craft.

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated March 19, 2015