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Press Release

Leader of local cocaine distribution cell headed to prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON – A 37-year-old Houston man has been handed a significant sentence following his conviction of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Ernesto Martinez pleaded guilty Sept. 25, 2019.

Today, Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal imposed a 200-month sentence to be followed by five years of supervised release.

In handing down the sentence, the court found Martinez ran a large-scale cocaine distribution network that spanned more than four years. During that time, Martinez and his associates distributed more than 50 kilograms of cocaine to a large number of cocaine distributors based throughout the country to include cities in Texas, Ohio, Florida and Arkansas.

The judge found Martinez to be a leader and organizer in the drug operation who dealt directly with cartel members in Mexico.

Martinez also possessed a firearm when trafficking cocaine on one occasion and maintained a residence in Houston used to stash cocaine and drug proceeds.

To date, seven others have been convicted for their respective roles in the drug trafficking organization.  

Martinez has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.  

The Drug Enforcement Administration and Harris County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey N. MacDonald is prosecuting the case.

Updated August 26, 2020

Drug Trafficking