Long Arm of the Law Catches up with Drug Trafficking Fugitive
HOUSTON – After 14 years on the run, a 42-year-old Roma man has pleaded guilty to charges filed against him in 2002 for conspiring to possess and possession with intent to distribute more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
A federal grand jury indicted Romeo Eduardo Barrera in September 2002 for federal drug law violations. He was Initially released on bond, but failed to appear for a pretrial conference before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt in Houston in February 2003. A warrant issued for his arrest.
In late May 2017, Barrera was involved in an automobile accident in the Rio Grande Valley. Local law enforcement present at the scene of the accident arrested him upon discovering the outstanding warrant. Barrera made his initial appearance in the McAllen Division and was transferred to Houston to face the long-pending charges. He made his appearance before Judge Hoyt who revoked his previous bond and ordered he be detained pending further criminal proceedings.
Today, Barrera entered a guilty plea to each of two counts alleged in the indictment - conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana and aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
The charges against Barrera arise from an investigation initiated in March 6, 2002. At that time, authorities located suspected narcotics traffickers from the Rio Grande Valley at a Houston-area Holiday Inn Express Hotel. Thereafter, law enforcement conducted surveillance during which time they observed Barrera arrive at the hotel and eventually leave with two others. Surveillance of that vehicle ultimately lead investigating officers to a residence on Northfield in Houston. There, investigating agents watched Barrera and seven other defendants entering and exiting the residence, using trash cans to remove large bales of marijuana and load them into a van parked nearby.
When officers approached, Barrera fled the scene along with all but one of the others. Authorities arrested Barrera shortly thereafter on a nearby street. During the chase, Barrera held 386.6 grams of marijuana wrapped in clear cellophane and a yellow sheet of paper with figures written on it.
In the Northfield residence, officers also found 31 cellophane-wrapped bales of marijuana weighing a total of approximately 1644 pounds along with an additional 154 grams of marijuana, 30 used and new duffle bags, two digital scales, wrapping materials, calculators, drug ledgers and three firearms.
In the parked van, investigating officers also found and seized 19 cellophane-wrapped bales of marijuana with an approximate total weight of 928.55 pounds.
At sentencing, Barrera faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison as well as a possible $10 million fine. Sentencing is set for Jan. 18, 2018. Barrera will remain in custody pending that hearing.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Houston Police department and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy G. Herrera is prosecuting the case.