20 arrested for conspiracy to distribute thousands of pounds of marijuana
LAREDO, Texas – A total of 16 Laredoans are now in custody following the return of two separate, but related indictments related to the distribution of large quantities of marijuana, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Most are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga in Laredo as early as 1:30 p.m. today.
Among those taken into custody were Jose Guadalupe Alaniz and Fernando Garcia, both 39; 21-year-olds Eduardo Javier Vazquez, Carlos Alejo Soliz and Carlos Erik Lopez; Arturo Villarreal and Francisco Arturo Neri, both 22; Edgar Alejandro Mashuca and Gustavo Alberto Duenes-Perez, both 34; Gavino Cadena, 33, Eduardo Gutierrez, 27, Jose Gerardo Gutierrez-Gonzalez, 23, Jesus Hernandez, 20, Jesus Rodriguez, 37, Leonardo Garza, 40, and Juan Lopez, 30. Also arrested were Alberto Castro, 40, Austin, and Mexican nationals Sergio Rodriguez and Jose Hernandez-Vazquez, both 37; and Jonathan Guadalupe Rodriguez-Rivera, 29.
A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment under seal June 29 charging Cadena, Sergio Rodriguez, Gutierrez, Villarreal and Mashuca. It alleges they conspired to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana Feb. 5-21, 2019.
A separate, but related six-count sealed indictment was also returned June 29. It alleges Gutierrez-Gonzalez, Duenes-Perez, Hernandez, Castro, Garza, Juan Lopez, Hernandez-Vazquez, Jesus Rodriguez, Neri, Vazquez, Soliz, Carlos Lopez and Rodriguez-Rivera conspired to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana between March 28, 2019 and April 23, 2020. Some are also charged with substantive counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana on varying dates during that time.
Alaniz and Garcia were charged via a related criminal complaint, alleging they conspired to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana March 28-May 15, 2019.
All men face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison as well as a possible $10 million maximum fine, upon conviction. Those charged in the substantive possession counts could also face additional maximum terms ranging from 40 years to life.
The investigation was part of the Blue Indigo Task Force and brought as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed Operation Noreste. OCDETF is the largest anti-crime task force in the country. Its mission is to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug trafficking and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States through prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency task forces that leverage the authorities and expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and Laredo Police Department conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; Border Patrol; Customs and Border Protection; FBI; Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. National Guard; Webb County District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office and Constable's Office, Precincts 1 and 4; and Texas Department of Public Safety.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Day is prosecuting this case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.