Former Fugitive And Furniture Store Owner Sent To Prison For Cocaine Trafficking And Money Laundering
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Jose Francisco Serna, of Mission, has been handed a significant federal sentence following his convictions of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Serna pleaded guilty Nov. 19, 2012.
Serna was arrested in August 2012 after having been a fugitive in Mexico for several years. His conviction relates to his participation in a South Texas drug-trafficking and money laundering organization that used his furniture store as a business front to launder illegal drug proceeds.
Today, U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Serna respective terms of 96 months on each count to be served concurrently for the drug and money laundering convictions. Serna was further ordered to pay a $5,000 fine on the money laundering count. Serna will also be required to serve a term of four years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.
Serna once owned and operated a retail furniture store in McAllen and began a drug venture on the side of his legitimate business with two of his associates in the furniture business. Serna later created Four Seasons Transport, a legitimate trucking company to transport secreted cocaine and currency between Mission and Atlanta, Ga. Cocaine was hidden in an axle of the tractor truck and was removed at “stash houses” in Lithonia and Savannah, Ga. Serna would then receive drug proceeds at his ranch in Mission. The drug proceeds were hidden in the same axle compartment of the tractor truck while being transported south. Serna used multiple bank accounts to hide the drug proceeds he had received, including his furniture business’ account.
At today’s hearing, Judge Rainey also entered a final order of forfeiture of Serna’s interest in a South Texas ranch, a piece of real property located in Hidalgo County valued at more than $300,000, which was used by Serna to conduct his drug business. At the ranch, Serna received cocaine load from Mexico for further distribution north to Georgia and South Carolina.
Serna will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation leading to the criminal charges was conducted in Corpus Christi lead by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service--Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie K. Hampton.