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Justice News

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

Friday, May 23, 2014

Five Charged With Drug Trafficking Out Of Rio Grande Valley

LAREDO, Texas – Two indictments have been unsealed following the arrest of one McAllen and four Zapata residents alleging marijuana and/or cocaine trafficking, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.  

Both indictments were returned under seal May 13, 2014, and unsealed upon today’s arrests of Roberto Piedra, 33, Isidro Ramirez, 34, Ramiro Guerrero, 35, and Omar Gonzalez, 50, all of Zapata, and Martin Gonzales Garces Jr., 55, of McAllen. All five are expected to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker Tuesday morning.

The first indictment alleges Piedra, Ramirez, Guerrero and Gonzalez conspired to possess with the intent to deliver 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana between February 2013 and Nov. 25, 2013, from South Texas to northern destinations. 

Specifically, transporters would allegedly drive the marijuana from the Rio Grande Valley to Laredo through ranches west of Laredo in order to avoid traveling through U.S. Border Patrol Immigration checkpoints. The indictment alleges the marijuana was concealed in belly dump trucks below loads of caliche as well as in utility trucks in order for these vehicles to blend in with oil field traffic on ranches. Members of the organization allegedly scouted for these loaded vehicles.

The first indictment further alleges that Piedra, Ramirez, Guerrero and Gonzalez possessed with the intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana on Nov. 24-25, 2013, and that Piedra possessed with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on Nov. 22, 2013.

The second indictment alleges that Garces conspired and possessed with the intent to deliver five kilograms or more of cocaine on Feb. 7, 2014. 

If convicted, all face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison and a possible $10 million fine.

The case is being investigated by the Homeland Security Investigations with the assistance of U.S. Border Patrol and the Zapata County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth R. Rabe and Raul Guerra are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated April 30, 2015