Texas Syndicate Member Pleads Guilty to His Leadership Role in Methamphetamine, Cocaine and Marijuana Distribution Conspiracy
LUBBOCK, Texas — Cruz Perez, a/k/a “Travieso,” 40, appeared in federal court yesterday and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant to his role in a methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana distribution conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Perez, a member of the Texas Syndicate, faces a statutory penalty of not less than five years nor more than 40 years in federal prison and up to a $5 million fine. A sentencing date was not set.
Perez and eight other west Texas residents, including three other members of the Texas Syndicate, were arrested in early June 2016 by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Texas Department of Public Safety, with assistance from the Big Spring, Sundown and Levelland Police Departments, the Howard County and Lubbock County Sheriff’s Offices, the U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Perez is the lead defendant in the case, and he is the last defendant charged in the case to plead guilty to his role in the conspiracy. Other defendants charged and convicted include:
Christopher Lee Gonzalez, aka “Gonzo,” 43
Victor Manuel Castillo, aka “Victor Manuel Garza,” 43
Christopher David Gonzales, aka “Chris,” 41
Evan Cruz Parson, aka “Evan,” 21
Alexander Alfonzo Mendoza, aka “Alex,” 20
Jose Gutierrez, III, aka “Baby Joey,” 21
Jasmine Pillar Hernandez, aka “Crazy,” 32
Crystal Dimas, aka “Babe,” 28
According to plea documents filed in Perez’s case, on October 3, 2015, Perez distributed and possessed with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. The investigation revealed that late that morning, Perez called Christopher Lee Gonzales and discussed Gonzales obtaining a quantity of methamphetamine from Perez. Perez advised that he’d have his nephew, Jose Gutierrez, III, bring it to Gonzales. At approximately 12:05 p.m., Perez called Gutierrez and told him that he needed to come back to Lamesa, Texas. Perez then texted/called Alexander Mendoza, who stored the methamphetamine for Perez, and instructed Mendoza to bring “The two that were left and the one that you got yesterday” and “also another 9.” At approximately 5:55 p.m., Perez and Gonzales discussed that Gonzales owned Perez approximately $21,000 for past drugs and that Gonzales was having trouble selling Perez’s methamphetamine because other dealers were selling a better quality methamphetamine for a cheaper price. Perez and Gonzales then discussed where to do the drug transaction.
Special agents with the DEA who were conducting surveillance in Lamesa observed a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe, known to be driven by Gutierrez, traveling toward Lubbock. Agents maintained surveillance until approximately 8:35 p.m. when a Texas Highway Patrol trooper stopped Gutierrez in Lubbock and found he was transporting approximately 500 grams of methamphetamine.
That evening, Gutierrez’s wife called Perez and told him that “Joey” texted her at 8:40 p.m., saying that he got “pulled over in Lubbock.” She called Perez and told him, “He went to jail.” When she called Perez at 9:19 p.m. and told him, “he got caught,” Perez asked, “With it? With the stuff?” She responded affirmatively. At approximately 9:11 p.m., Perez called Parson and told him, “Baby Joey went to jail,” referring to Gutierrez being arrested with the methamphetamine. Then, at approximately 9:23 p.m., Perez called Gonzales and told him, “He didn’t make it,” referring to Gutierrez being arrested with the methamphetamine.
The investigation is being led by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the DEA. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Juanita Fielden and Sean Long are prosecuting the case.