Members Of Distribution Ring Sent To Federal Prison For Trafficking Nearly A Ton Of Marijuana
McALLEN, Texas – Mexican Nationals Gabriel Miramontes, 36, Carlos Garza-Salazar, 31, Jose Gonzalez-Lopez, 27, and Librado Zuniga-Polanco, 30, have been ordered to prison following their convictions in relation to a marijuana trafficking conspiracy, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The men pleaded guilty on Feb. 7, 2012.
Today, U.S. Chief District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa sentenced the ring leader, Miramontes, to 97 months in federal prison. Miramontes had recruited the remaining defendants to package and distribute marijuana. Garza-Salazar, Gonzalez-Lopez and Zuniga-Polanco received respective sentences of 60, 33 and 22 months for also conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. Not U.S. Citizens, they are expected to face deportation proceedings following completion of their prison terms.
In September and October 2011, narcotics investigators of the Texas Department of Public Safety launched an investigation into a marijuana distribution ring operating out of a rented warehouse unit in Pharr. Investigators conducted a traffic stop of a commercial vehicle departing the warehouse after investigators observed the defendants packaging and loading the narcotics. A search of the vehicle revealed the presence of 1,906 pounds of the drug.
The evidence presented during the hearing today showed Miramontes had established a marijuana distribution network that received marijuana from Mexico, concealed the narcotics within produce crates and arranged legitimate commercial tractor trailers to transport the concealed marijuana to distribution networks across the country. Miramontes relied upon his family-owned produce business to provide the limes and cilantro used to conceal the marijuana. In the months preceding his arrest, Miramontes began to pursue his aspiration to became a song artist, performing in venues across Mexico. The investigation indicated Miramontes recruited the remaining defendants to perform the manual labor of packaging, concealing and transporting the narcotics.
All four of the defendants will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
This case was investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Grady J. Leupold.