24 Years For Mexican National In Cocaine Conspiracy
HOUSTON – Jose Manuel Zuniga, 42, a Mexican National residing in Houston, has been sent to federal prison for his conviction on one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Zuniga entered a plea of guilty on June 17, 2011.
Today, U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. handed Zuniga a total sentence of 292 months in federal prison to be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release. Zuniga’s sentence was enhanced after he was deemed to be a supervisor of criminal activity that involved five or more participants.
From January 2006 to November 2010, Zuniga worked for an organization based in Mexico that was responsible for the transportation and distribution of cocaine into the United States and the return of the proceeds to Mexico. He relied on his co-defendants for the success of his enterprise and was responsible for arranging drivers in the Houston area to transport cocaine to different parts of the United States. Once the drugs arrived in Houston, his drivers would distribute the cocaine throughout Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama and Missouri.
Zuniga was responsible for coordinating and paying individuals to pick up, transport and distribute cocaine while acting under the direction of a co-conspirator. In addition to paying individuals to pick up, transport and distribute drugs, Zuniga would arrange for drivers to transport the drug proceeds, derived from his drug trafficking, back to Mexico. During the period of the conspiracy, Zuniga was responsible for distributing more than 260 kilograms of the schedule II controlled substance cocaine.
To date, four others have been convicted in relation to this case, with sentences thus far ranging from 70 to 120 months.
Zuniga has been in federal custody without bond since his arrest where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
This case was part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and was investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Stuart A. Burns is prosecuting the case.