Authorities Make Multiple Arrests in Large Narcotics Trafficking and Money Laundering Conspiracy
LAREDO, Texas – A total of 18 defendants have been taken into custody in Laredo, San Antonio and other areas of the country on charges involving cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Those taken into custody include Antonio Romero Jr., 29, of Laredo, who has been identified as the head of the drug trafficking cell which operated out of Orlando, Florida. He was taken into custody in Orlando where he made his initial appearance and ordered detained pending further criminal proceedings in Laredo. His wife, Olinda Romero, 29, of Mexico, was also arrested in Orlando under on money laundering charges. Authorities also arrested Loreto Castaneda Macedo, 37, of Mexico, and Francisco Javier Salazar Diaz, 58, of Mexico, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
In South Texas, authorities arrested 12 others who will make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Guillermo R. Garcia on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. Those persons include Nora Arlette Romero, 37, Tito Garcia, 44, Oscar N. Mancillas, 26, Karina Mancillas-Rubio, 28, Jason Aguilar Blake, 29, Jesus Miguel Torres, 30, Daniel Laurel, 31, Hector Ortiz, 22, Stephanie Ozuna, 26, Maria Lilia Ozuna, 61, Oscar Mancillas Santos, 56, and Olga Calzado de Mancillas, 54.
Two others - Luis Felipe Santos Alejandro, 29, and Dennis Alvarez Boquin, 32, were arrested in Santa Monica, California, and Atlanta, Georgia, respectively.
The defendants are alleged members of a drug and money laundering organization and are charged with various to include engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute multi kilograms quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, conspiracy to launder drug proceeds and numerous other money laundering violations.
The indictments charge the defendants with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl through the use of the U.S. Postal Service or other means such as Federal Express. They allegedly used various U.S. bank accounts to transfer drug proceeds from U.S. distribution hub cities to U.S. cities along the Mexican border, including Laredo, and to places outside the United States, such as Mexico, Ecuador and Peru.
In addition to the criminal charges, the indictments seek to forfeit all property, real and personal, involved in the offenses and all property traceable to such property to include but not limited to approximately $5 million in U.S. currency. In conjunction with the arrests, authorities seized at least 28 vehicles as property derived from drug proceeds.
The charges are the culmination of a long term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Investigation dubbed Tres Equis spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance of IRS – Criminal Investigation. Agencies also lending support to the investigation and arrests include the U.S. Marshals Service, Laredo Police Department, sheriff’s offices in Webb and Zapata Counties, Webb County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Graciela R. Lindberg is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.