Meth Lab, False Statements and Illegal Re-Entry Indictments Returned
LAREDO, Texas – A Laredo federal grand jury has returned several unrelated indictments, four of which involved a methamphetamine conversion lab, illegal firearms purchases and two habitual illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Isidro Gonzalez, 44, Ismael Espinoza-Martinez, 37, Jesus Sanchez-Rico, 42, and Heriberto Castro-Escamilla, 45, were all originally charged by criminal complaint and have remained in custody. Today, a Laredo grand jury returned seven, one, one and seven-count indictments, respectively. They are all expected for their arraignments before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga in the near future.
Gonzalez is a legal permanent resident who resided in Dallas and is charged with importing more than 43 kilograms of methamphetamine and having a conversion lab found in a family home.
The indictment alleges that on July 30, 2019, federal agents searched his family home in Dallas, at which time, they allegedly found a liquid methamphetamine conversion lab, two kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, 13.5 kilograms of liquid methamphetamine and conversion equipment. They also discovered a box of empty bottles in his daughter’s bedroom closet that tested positive for methamphetamine residue, according to the charges.
The liquid methamphetamine was allegedly transported from Mexico via bus lines and couriers through Laredo, to the Dallas residence where he converted it into crystal methamphetamine.
If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison and a possible $10 million maximum fine.
The two separate, but similar indictments against Mexican citizens Espinoza-Martinez and Sanchez-Rico allege they illegally re-entered the country on multiple occasions. According to the charges, Espinoza-Martinez was removed from the U.S. a total of six times - March 26, 2004, Sept. 19, 2006, March 4, 2008, Feb. 25, 2012, March 24, 2015, and Aug. 3, 2018. The 2015 removal followed his conviction for driving while intoxicated, according to court records. Nevertheless, he allegedly returned to the U.S. without authorization near Hebbronville once again Aug. 25, 2019.
Authorities apprehended Sanchez-Rico near Laredo for illegally re-entering the country Aug. 24, 2019, according to his charges. He had allegedly been removed July 21, 2009, March 10, 2010, and March 18, 2019. The final removal date was subsequent to a felony conviction for aggravated stalking.
If convicted, both men face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 possible fine.
Castro-Escamilla is a U.S. citizen who had lived in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, for 34 years. He is charged for his role in aiding and abetting others and for making a false statement in connection with the purchase of firearms. According to the criminal complaint, he purchased five AR-15 type semi-automatic rifles over the course of three months beginning March 27, 2019. On the federal form required for the purchases, he claimed the weapons were for himself when, in fact, they were allegedly going to Mexico, according to the charges.
If convicted, Castro-Escamilla faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted the Gonzalez investigation with the assistance of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office. Border Patrol and HSI conducted the illegal re-entry investigations, while the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives handled the Castro-Escamilla investigation with the assistance of HSI, Border Enforcement Security Task Force and Laredo Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Mary McAuliffe is prosecuting the methamphetamine and firearms cases, while AUSA Adam Harper is handling the illegal re-entry matters.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.