Criminal charges unsealed against 12 individuals in wide-ranging scheme to monopolize transmigrante industry and extort competitors near U.S.-Mexico border
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A total of nine men have now been sentenced to federal prison as a result of the efforts of a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation into a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The conspiracy ran from 2003 until their arrests in June 2012.
Jesus Marroquin, 50, and Flavio Tamez, 47, both of Rio Grande City; Adrian De la Garza, 41, of Sullivan City; Rene Salazar, 42, Jose Figueroa, 36, Edwardo Munoz, 36, Samuel Garcia, 52, and Onofre Lopez, 37, all of Falfurrias; and Alejandro Garza, 43, of Mission - each entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos on Sept. 6, 2012. Three others - Roberto Garza, 42, and Jesus Gregorio Lopez aka Goyo Lopez, 63, both of Mission; and Ramon Zamora, 52, of Rio Grande City, were convicted following a seven-day trial on Oct. 25, 2012.
Today, Judge Ramos ordered Roberto Garza, identified as a leader in the conspiracy, to serve the rest of his life in prison. Zamora, also considered a leader, was also sentenced today, to a term of 360 months in federal prison.
On Feb, 6, 2013, Lopez aka Goyo, was sentenced to 292 months, at which time his interest in ranch property was ordered forfeited to the United States. Last month, Garcia was sentenced to 120 Months, while De la Garza, Salazar, Figueroa, Munoz and Lopez received respective sentences of 50, 30, 15, eight and 84 months. The remaining three defendants - Garza, Tamez and Marroquin are set for sentencing next month.
The criminal organization specialized in avoiding the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint by using ranches adjacent to the checkpoint.
Evidence presented at trial by the government included 19 marijuana seizures directly linked to this organization, totaling more than three tons of marijuana seized by law enforcement. Further, evidence presented showed that an outdoor restroom (outhouse) was used by the organization to hide marijuana on one of the ranches. The outhouse has a secret underground compartment where they stored up to 1000 pounds of marijuana at a time. Evidence also included multiple vehicles used by this organization to circumvent the checkpoint, including trucks and multiple all-terrain vehicles.
Tamez has agreed to the criminal forfeiture of two pieces of real property located in Starr County - a house built by Tamez using drug proceeds and a business used by Tamez to conduct his drug business. Tamez also agreed to forfeit $230,000 in currency seized from a safe deposit box where Tamez hid drug proceeds. Marroquin has also agreed to criminally forfeit several pieces of jewelry and $6,000 in currency seized during his arrest.
The real properties involved in this conspiracy were either purchased with drug proceeds or used to facilitate the drug-trafficking activity. The ranch known as “Campo de Goyo” or the “Carolina Ranch,” was specifically used by this organization as a staging area to store large quantities of marijuana before proceeding through the ranches around the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint.
The OCDETF investigation leading to the criminal charges was conducted in Corpus Christi lead by Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Texas Department of Public Safety, Brooks County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection and the United States Marshals Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie K. Hampton.