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Press Release

Meth Ring Leader Gets 30 Years In Federal Prison

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

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Houston resident Alexander Ortega, 24, has been ordered to prison following his convictions of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and conspiring to import approximately 5.1 kilograms of methamphetamine, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. A federal jury in Brownsville convicted Ortega on Feb. 6, 2013, following three days of trial.

Today, U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle, who presided over the trial, handed Ortega a total of 360 months in prison for each of the four counts of conviction to be served concurrently. In handing down the sentence, Judge Tagle noted the amount of drugs involved and Ortega’s role as leader of the conspiracy. Ortega will also be required to serve a term of five years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.

At trial, the government presented evidence that on March 13, 2011, Omar Lerma-Teniente, 24, of Houston, was caught at the Gateway International Port of Entry with approximately with approximately 5.1 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden underneath the rear seat of the car. Subsequently, on Oct. 24, 2011, John Phelps, 26, of Houston, and William Holley, 27, of Houston, were arrested at the Hidalgo Port of Entry for attempting to smuggle approximately 20 kilograms of methamphetamine into the United States. The investigation linked both cases to Ortega.

At trial, the government proved Ortega recruited Lerma-Teniente, Phelps and Holley, having paid them to smuggle the methamphetamine into the United States from Mexico.

Lerma-Teniente, Phelps and Holley were all also convicted in separate, but related cases.

Ortega 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 Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Ana Cano is prosecuting.

Updated April 30, 2015