Laredo Jury Convicts Three In “Operation El Patron”
LAREDO, Texas – Three drug and money laundering co-conspirators have been found guilty of charges resulting from a long-term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its verdicts following a seven-day trial and more than five hours of deliberation.
Enrique Mendez, of Laredo, Carlos Javier Flores Sr. and his son Carlos Javier Flores Jr., both of Zapata, engaged in a conspiracy to distribute bulk quantities of cocaine from Texas to Georgia and returned drug proceeds to Laredo and into Mexico. During the course of the investigation that led the convictions, agents seized more than $7.5 million in drug proceeds and more than 450 kilograms of cocaine. Agents also seized a drug ledger that attributes the movement/distribution of approximately 12,500 kilograms of cocaine and $41. 9 million in drug proceeds by these and other co-conspirators.
The trial began July 22 and finished late yesterday and included more than 20 government witnesses. Mendez was found guilty of drug conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and four substantive counts of laundering U.S. currency in amounts ranging from $200,468 to $999,465. Flores Sr. and Jr. were both found guilty of drug conspiracy, while Flores Sr. was also found guilty of a substantive count of possession of a controlled substance in excess of five kilograms of cocaine. Mendez and Flores Sr., who each have prior felony drug convictions, are facing a mandatory minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life imprisonment without parole as well as a $20 million fine. Flores Jr. is facing a mandatory minimum punishment of 10 years and up to life as well as a $10 million fine.
To date, 25 other co-conspirators have been convicted and sentenced as part of this investigation. Seven other co-conspirators identified in this investigation are scheduled for sentencing later this year.
The charges and resulting convictions are the result of OCDETF operation dubbed Operation El Patron involving Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Agencies who assisted in the arrests and other aspects of the investigation included the Webb County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Border Patrol, Webb County Sheriff’s Office, Laredo Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Graciela Rodriguez Lindberg and Sanjeev Bhasker prosecuted the case.