Meth Dealers Who Plotted to Kill DEA Agent Plead Guilty
Two drug traffickers who plotted to assassinate a DEA task force office have plead guilty, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.
Manuel Gomez-Garcia, 35, and Jorge Humberto Velazco Larios, 29, were indicted in the summer of 2020. Mr. Gomez pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in September 2020 and to conspiracy to use interstate commerce in the commission of murder-for-hire in March 2022. Mr. Larios pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, and conspiracy to use interstate commerce in the commission of murder-for-hire today.
Both defendants, believed to be affiliated with Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generation (CJNG), one of Mexico’s most violent and powerful drug cartels – admitted to plotting a hit on a DEA task force office assigned to their drug case.
“These defendants plotted to murder an officer who routinely risks his own safety to rid our streets of dangerous drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham. “The Justice Department will not tolerate retaliatory violence against its own. We are prepared to move mountains to protect the men and women who protect us.”
“DEA Special Agents and Task Forces Officers know the inherent risks they face when they go out to enforce our mission, disrupt criminal networks, and curb the flow of drugs from reaching our neighborhoods. Drug related violence affects us all and there is nothing more serious than the intent to take a person’s life,” said Eduardo A. Chávez, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Dallas Field Division. “Through our drug investigation and the tenacious efforts from our colleagues at FBI Dallas to hold these individuals accountable, we are pleased that their admission of guilt means they will now pay for their crimes.”
“Last year 73 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in line of duty incidents. Those statistics are a stark reminder that officers face a multitude of threats every day,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno. “The FBI is committed to keeping our law enforcement partners safe. In this instance, a dangerous act was prevented and ensured that a law enforcement officer made it home safely.”
According to court documents, while behind bars on drug charges, Mr. Gomez told another individual at the jail he wanted to “off” the officer. He set the budget at $20,000: $5,000 up front and $15,000 following the hit.
In a subsequent phone call with an individual outside the jail, Mr. Gomez confirmed he wanted the DEA Task Force Officer murdered.
Mr. Gomez then called his girlfriend and his sister in Mexico to arrange for delivery of the murder-for-hire fee. He advised them that the co-defendant in his drug case, Mr. Larios, would also contribute to the up-front payment.
Meanwhile, Mr. Larios, also behind bars, called an unindicted co-conspirator and asked him to deliver money to a workshop “so we can take care of something.”
On June 11, the unindicted co-conspirator, referred to in court documents by the nickname “Roberto,” made a $3,000 “down payment” for the murder of the agent. Five days later, he made an additional $2,000 payment on behalf of Mr. Gomez and Mr. Larios.
Mr. Gomez once again called his contact outside the jail. He described the DEA agent he wanted killed, then instructed the individual to call his girlfriend and sister, who he said had documents that could help the hit man figure out the name of the target.
Shortly thereafter, his sister received a photo of DEA task force officer “T.H.” via the messaging app, WhatsApp. The following day, she flashed the image during a jailhouse video call with Mr. Gomez.
“Yes, that’s him,” Mr. Gomez told her, smiling.
The defendants now face up to life in federal prison.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office, the Texas Department of Public Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, and ICE Enforcement & Removal Operations investigated the drug case with the assistance of the Midlothian Police Department and Ellis County Sheriff’s Office. The FBI’s Dallas Field Office - Violent Crime Task Force investigated the murder-for-hire in close collaboration with the DEA. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. Customs & Border Protection assisted. Assistant U.S. Attorneys PJ Meitl and Travis Elder prosecuted the drug case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Calvert is prosecuting the murder-for-hire.