24 Laredoans Indicted On Drug And Money Laundering Charges
LAREDO, Texas – Two Indictments, alleging conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine as well as money laundering charges, have been partially unsealed following the arrest of 25 individuals, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Special Agent in Charge Javier Peña of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez of the FBI’s San Antonio Division.
During law enforcement actions this morning, agents arrested a total of 24 Laredo residents. Those include Juan Pablo Contreras, 37, Carlos Contreras, 33, Modesto Moises Ramirez, 43, Arnulfo Ramos-Valdez Jr., 42, Julio Jesus Rangel, 30, Ana Rosa Contreras, 31, Martin Contreras Jr., 25, Steve Contreras, 35, Victor Contreras, 22, Guadalupe Mario Contreras, 51, Abraham Xavier Becerra, 29, Jorge Alberto Guerra, 40, Eufrosina Lopez, 41,Yvonne Hernandez, 42, Orlando G. Ibarra, 32, Raul Victoriano Rojas, 40, Luis Manuel Salinas, 46, Leopoldo Arviso, 26, Christopher O’Bryant, 25, Eduardo Santa Cruz, 32, and Guadalupe Bedarte, 29.
Jaime Tomas Hernandez-Rocha, 45, Pablo Contreras Jr., 41, and Mario Alberto Rodriguez, 26, all of Laredo, are also charged but were already in custody. Also charged and arrested today was Richard Cruz Rodriguez Jr., 46, of San Antonio.
The indictment alleges some of those charged are members and associates of the Texas Mexican Mafia prison gang. The indictments, returned under seal on June 11, 2013 and partially unsealed following the arrests today, remain sealed as to those charged but not in custody.
“Today, DEA and our law enforcement counterparts issued a substantial blow to the Texas Mexican Mafia Laredo Chapter, allegedly one of the strongest Mexican-based cocaine trafficking organizations operating in Texas,” said Peña. “The DEA will continue to assault these types of alleged drug trafficking organizations if they are suspected of brazenly distributing illegal controlled substances throughout our communities.”
“These arrests today should send a clear message to the Texas Mexican Mafia, and other suspected criminal organizations, that law enforcement will not tolerate their alleged violent acts and trafficking of dangerous drugs in our community, added Fernandez.”
The joint investigation began in 2009 and identified some of the defendants as members of the Mexican Mafia distributing cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, according to the indictment. Additional defendants were also allegedly associated with the Mexican Mafia and participated in the conspiracy, doing so under the group’s protection. The indictment indicates the distribution of heroin and methamphetamine was organized mainly by Juan Pablo Contreras and Carlos Contreras to other alleged members and associates of the Mexican Mafia and included distribution to locations such as San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi. The investigation also uncovered evidence of the gang’s money laundering activities, part of which revealed efforts to smuggle drug proceeds back to the sources of the drugs in Mexico, according to the indictment.
The charges are the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation named “Operation X3,” which was conducted by agents of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. They were assisted at different times by the United States Marshals Service, police departments in Laredo, Austin and San Marcos, Customs and Border Protection, Texas Department of Public Safety - Criminal Investigations Division and the LaSalle and Karnes County Sheriff’s Offices.
Assistant United States Attorneys James Hepburn and Andy Guardiola are prosecuting the cases.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.