Million dollar smuggler sent to prison
McALLEN, Texas – A 36-year-old Rio Grande City man has been ordered to federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and bulk cash smuggling, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Oziel J. Rodriguez pleaded guilty Nov. 15, 2021.
Today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane ordered Oziel J. Rodriguez to serve a total 180-month sentence to be immediately followed by five years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard evidence Rodriguez was involved in recruiting at least three other individuals to participate in a drug trafficking organization. In handing down the sentence, the court noted the extensive nature of the drug trafficking organization and Rodriguez’s leadership role in it.
Rodriguez utilized the three individuals to transport at least 30 kilograms of cocaine from Sept. 20, 2019, through June 7, 2020, from the Rio Grande Valley through the checkpoints in South Texas. Evidence gathered during the investigation also revealed that recruited individuals made approximately 50 other trips for the purpose of transporting controlled substances.
In addition to transporting narcotics, Rodriguez also facilitated and coordinated the transportation of drug proceeds to the Rio Grande Valley from northern cities in the United States and the delivery of proceeds to Mexico. On June 7, 2020, law enforcement seized approximately $265,000 of drug proceeds in Jim Wells county. In addition, they later seized $838,481 in drug proceeds from Rodriguez as he attempted to smuggle the proceeds to Mexico.
Rodriguez has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility in the near future.
The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Jim Wells County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto Lopez Jr. is prosecuting the case.
The plea is a result of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed Operation Bacon’s Law. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States. It uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage.