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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 2, 2016

Drug Trafficker Sentenced in Two Conspiracies

LAREDO, Texas - The fourth of 20 defendants convicted in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and money laundering scheme has been ordered to prison, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Juan Manuel Vargas Aguilar aka “Chacalilla,” 46, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, previously pleaded guilty for his role in two separate drug conspiracies.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo sentenced him for a conspiracy that spanned from June 10, 2011, to June 4, 2013, and for his involvement in a second conspiracy that occurred on Oct. 4, 2014. Judge Marmolejo consolidated the cases for sentencing and ordered he serve 70 months in prison. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face deportations proceedings following his release from prison.

In the first conspiracy, Erasmo Trejo-Nava was the head of a drug trafficking organization that received marijuana loads from Mexico and arranged to transport the marijuana to the Dallas area. The organization used various stash houses and business fronts in the Laredo area to receive and prepare the marijuana for transportation via personal vehicles to a local warehouse where it was unloaded and reloaded onto tractor trailers. 

Vargas was identified as a worker for the organization who assisted with virtually anything. He constructed wooden crates for the transportation of marijuana, re-wrapped the drugs, received loads at a local warehouse, assisted at stash houses along with other workers and conducted counter surveillance at stash houses and during the transportation of the narcotics.

Vargas Aguilar was implicated in the transportation of four separate loads of marijuana for the Trejo-Nava drug trafficking organization totaling 6,022 kilograms.

A total of 20 defendants were convicted in the Trejo-Nava conspiracy. A federal jury convicted Rafael Ortega aka Tio, 57, of Laredo, and Baltazar Ibarra Cardona, 55, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Ortega and Ibarra Cardona were each ordered to serve 120 months in federal prison earlier this year. Erika Alvarez, 39, also of Nuevo Laredo, who was identified as Trejo Nava’s niece and pleaded guilty to the money laundering conspiracy received a sentence of 48 months. The court further issued a final order of forfeiture against Alvarez in the amount  of $171,240.

The remaining 17 defendants had previously pleaded guilty and are also awaiting sentencing. Erasmo Abdon Trejo Nava, 44, Jose Angel Trejo, 43, Ovidio Rodriguez, 42, Victor Hugo Trejo Nava, 42, Francisco Colin, 42, and Salvador Saldaña-Medrano, 37, all of Laredo; Jaime Enrique Montalvo-Ruiz, 45, of Nuevo Laredo; and Leocadio Ruiz, 48, of Dallas, entered pleas of guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and conspiracy to launder drug proceeds. Four others, Mario Albert Rodriguez, 30, and Ricardo Ramirez, 34, both of Laredo; Arturo Lozano, 48, of Dallas; and Joshua Sanchez, 33, of Nuevo Laredo - pleaded guilty to the conspiracy. Gerardo Moreno Recio, 49, of Nuevo Laredo, was convicted of two separate counts of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, while Laura Heredia Garcia, 51, of Nuevo Laredo; and Raquel Margarita Ramos Jimenez, 45, and Leslie Bernice Trejo, 23, both of Laredo, entered pleas of guilty to one count of conspiracy tolaunder drug proceeds.

Following the arrest of Trejo-Nava in June 4, 2013, Vargas Aguilar moved on to work for another organization. He was arrested Oct. 4, 2014, along with Julio Cesar Valdez Casas at a ranch in North Laredo on Mines Road. Border Patrol agents had observed two vehicles near the area where five unidentified subjects were attempting to load bundles of marijuana weighing a total of 168 kilograms. When agents approached the vehicles, the subjects dropped the drugs and fled to Mexico. Valdez Casas was one of the drivers and arrested at the scene. Vargas Aguilar was driving the second vehicle and fled, but was later apprehended. Valdez Casas, 52, of Nuevo Laredo, was sentenced on March 31, 2015, to 60 months in federal prison. 

The charges were the result of a long term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Investigation dubbed Operation Trena Sin Trono spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Administration, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and IRS - Criminal Investigation with the assistance of Homeland Security Investigations, Laredo Police Department, Zavala County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Lou Castillo is prosecuting the case. 

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated June 2, 2016