Final Two Ordered to Prison in 10-Defendant Marijuana Conspiracy
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The remaining defendants charged in a 10-defendant marijuana conspiracy have all been ordered to federal prison, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. The 10 were charged in a multi-state drug trafficking conspiracy that had been trafficking narcotics since 2010.
Jose Angel Marichalar, 36, of Mission, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and possession with intent to distribute more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana while Jesus Gonzales, 46, of Hidalgo, previously pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana
Today, U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle sentenced Marichalar to 156 months in federal prison. Gonzales received a 112-month-term of imprisonment. Marichalar’s sentence includes upward adjustments or increases in his calculated sentencing guideline range because he was found to be a leader within the conspiracy and found to have maintained premises to facilitate the offloading, processing and distribution of illicit narcotics.
Marichalar and Gonzalez have also forfeited their interests in several pieces of real estate and numerous personal items, including cars, tractors, trailers, guns and jewelry, valued at more than $1.5 million. They have also agreed to a $10 million money judgment against them. Marichalar was also ordered to pay a $50,000, while Gonzalez was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine.
The other eight charged and convicted in the case were previously sentenced to terms ranging from 38 – 189 months in federal prison.
All were part of a multi-state drug trafficking and money laundering organization that had existed since 2010. The drug trafficking organization, based out of the Rio Grande Valley, would hire out-of- state truck drivers to haul loads of produce with ton quantities of marijuana hidden in false compartments. Drug proceeds would then be transported back to the Rio Grande Valley. The conspiracy extended to Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The case was the result of a nearly three-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration with the assistance of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; FBI; Sheriff’s Offices in Cameron and Zapata Counties; Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force; Border Patrol and the Brownsville Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Castro is prosecuting the case.
Updated August 1, 2017