15 Sentenced in Investigation Initially Targeting Street Gang
HOUSTON – With the sentencing of two more defendants today, 15 criminals have now been brought to justice for their respective roles in either a cocaine trafficking conspiracy or an alien smuggling/marijuana trafficking conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Special Agent in Charge Brian M. Moskowitz of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Houston.
Aldo Teyes-Sanchez, a 32-year-old from El Salvador, and Antonio Rivas-Vargas, a 31-year-old Mexican national, pleaded guilty Aug. 30, 2013, and Sept. 5, 2014, respectively. They were charged in a conspiracy to traffic cocaine.
Today, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon ordered Teyes-Sanchez to serve a total of 70 months in federal prison, while Rivas-Vargas will serve a 41-month-term. Not U.S. citizens, both are expected to face deportation proceedings following their release from prison. During sentencing, Judge Harmon noted that each defendant was part of a group of individuals who sold multi-ounce quantities of cocaine over a period of several years and that they distributed drugs for the Southwest Cholos gang, Glenmont clique. The group was also involved in the sale and use of firearms as a part of their drug trade.
“Those who come to this country and choose the lifestyle of a criminal street gang member should understand that they will be investigated, prosecuted, and as in this case, convicted and sentenced to federal prison,” said Moskowitz. “ICE is committed to working with our partners to disrupt the myriad of illicit activities that criminal street gangs thrive on as a way to make our communities safer for all.”
With the exception of one defendant - Eulogio Alanis - who has not yet been sentenced, today’s proceedings bring a conclusion to an operation conducted by HSI which initially targeted the Southwest Cholo street gang. Although not all were involved in gang activity, the resulting investigation led to indictments against 16 defendants. Four were charged with a cocaine conspiracy, while the other 12 faced marijuana and alien smuggling charges.
Those involved in alien smuggling would smuggle undocumented aliens across the United States-Mexico border. The illegal aliens were required to pay a fee or transport narcotics into the country to satisfy their smuggling debt. To date, all 16 defendants have been convicted and 15 are now headed to or are in federal prison.
HSI investigated along with the Houston Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Mark E. Donnelly prosecuted the cases.