Multiple Arrests In Alleged Marijuana Conspiracy Out Of Starr County
McALLEN, Texas - A total of 12 individuals have been arrested in connection with a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana from March 1, 2012 through June 25, 2013, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The indictment, returned June 25, 2013, was partially unsealed upon the arrests today and yesterday. It remains sealed as to those charged but not as yet in custody.
The arrests stem from a year-long Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation targeting the illegal importation and distribution of marijuana from Starr County to other locations within the United States.
Delfino Bazan, 44, of Rio Grande City and Houston, and his common law wife, Alejandrina Martinez, 43, of Houston, were arrested at their Houston residence on Monday, July 22. Both are charged with conspiring to launder proceeds from drug trafficking. Bazan is also charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana as well as several substantive drug trafficking counts. Bazan and Martinez both made their initial appearances yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge John R. Froeschner in Galveston. U.S. Magistrate Judge Froeschner ordered Bazan into custody pending a detention hearing to be held at a later date in McAllen. Martinez was permitted release upon posting bond and ordered to appear in court in McAllen on July 30, 2013.
Today, nine others were taken into custody for conspiring with Bazan to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Baldemar Montalvo, 45, Enrique Montalvo, 40, Thomas Garcia, 52, Ivan D. Campos-Landa, 31, and David Ulloa Correa, 47, all of Rio Grande City; Jose Luis Palacios Jr., 37, of Mission; Edmundo Canales, 23, and Jose Luis Palacios Sr., 63, both of Edinburg; and Elee Campos Camargo, 37, of McAllen, are all charged in the overall drug conspiracy.
On July 19, 2013, Mexican citizen Sostenes Ferreira-Garcia, 50, illegally residing in Rio Grande City, was arrested by law enforcement agents in relation to this case. He made his initial appearance yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos and was ordered detained pending a detention hearing on July 25, 2013, at 11:00 a.m.
All defendants, except for Martinez, are charged in the overall drug conspiracy which carries a potential range of punishment of five to 40 years and a possible $5 million fine. If convicted of conspiracy to launder drug proceeds, Baldemar Montalvo, Martinez and Bazan all face a potential punishment of up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. With the exception of Martinez, each defendant further faces one or more substantive drug trafficking charges, with amounts ranging from 14 to 1,959 kilograms in each instance. The punishment range on these charges, upon conviction, varies depending on the amount of drugs involved, from no more than five years up to a maximum of life in prison.
All those arrested today are expected to make their initial appearances before Judge Ramos on Wednesday, July 26, 2013, at which time they are expected to remain in custody pending further criminal proceedings.
The OCDETF investigation dubbed "Operation Casanova" is being conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Starr County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Juan F. Alanis is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law