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Press Release

4 men head to prison for 31-kilogram cocaine conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

LAREDO, Texas – Three Mexican men and a U.S. citizen have been sentenced for their part in a conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver a large amount of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Aaron Hervey Esparza Villarreal, 27, of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, pleaded guilty Aug. 4, admitting he was part of a conspiracy that involved smuggling cocaine hidden in a semi-truck. Mexican citizens Jose Contreras Rodriguez, 58, and Ernesto Yadir Martinez Campos, 39, pleaded guilty July 8, along with Viviano Hernandez, 41, a U.S. citizen who was residing in Mexico. 

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo handed Hernandez a 36-month term of imprisonment. Villarreal, Campos and Rodriguez were previously sentenced to 87, 60, and 48 months, respectively. Not U.S. citizens, Villarreal, Rodriguez and Campos are expected to face removal proceedings following their sentences.

“Smuggling illegal controlled substances poses a serious risk to public health and safety in our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “HSI will continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to target drug smuggling organizations that make money by bringing dangerous drugs into our neighborhoods.”

On Jan. 17, law enforcement observed two men, later identified as Rodriguez and Hernandez, working on the vehicle. They then got into a sedan, left the area and met up with an SUV. At that time, Hernandez handed over trash bags to Villarreal in the SUV.

Authorities attempted to stop the SUV, but Villarreal led them on a high-speed pursuit before crashing into the Evelyn Motel on San Bernardo Avenue. Inside the vehicle was 31 kilograms of cocaine in the trash bags.

Law enforcement also apprehended Hernandez and Rodriguez as they attempted to enter Mexico. Campos was the driver of the semi and brought the drugs into the United States from Mexico. He was also taken into custody.

Villarreal will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Fawcett prosecuted the case.

Updated December 8, 2020

Drug Trafficking