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Press Release

Rio Grande City Man Ordered to Prison in Multi-Defendant Drug Conspiracy

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

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 38-year-old South Texas man has been sentenced for his involvement in a multi-state drug trafficking conspiracy that had been trafficking marijuana and cocaine since 2003, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Arnaldo Bermea, of Rio Grande City, pleaded guilty Aug. 1, 2017.

Today, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen sentenced Bermea to a 102-month term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by a five-year term of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Judge Hanen previously sentenced six other defendants in connection with this conspiracy. Jose Manuel Portillo-Guerrero, 42, of Valadeces, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Javier Alejandro Aldava, 30, and Oscar Erick Calvillo-Lores, 38, both of Reynosa, Tamaulipas Mexico, all undocumented aliens were sentenced to 52, 120 and 192 months in prison, respectively. Heber Bienvendio Tejada, 37, of New Jersey, received a 48-month prison term while Moises Ramirez, 34, and Ramiro Espinoza, 48, both of Brownville, were ordered to serve 60 and 81 months, respectively.

All seven conspirators were part of a multi-state drug trafficking and money laundering organization that had existed since 2003. The drug trafficking organization, based out of the Rio Grande Valley, would hire truck drivers to haul loads of produce to northern states with ton quantities of marijuana and multi-kilogram quantiles of cocaine hidden in false compartments. Drug proceeds would then be transported back to the Rio Grande Valley.

All defendants except Tejada, Ramirez and Espinoza, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana. The evidence at sentencing indicated that on Aug. 10, 2011, agents approached a suspected narcotics stash house in Mission and found Portillo-Guerrero, Calvillo-Lores and Aldava. Authorities arrested all three after agents discovered 2,120 kilograms of marijuana within the garage of the residence. They also found marijuana hidden within concreate pillars and some hidden within a trailer inside the garage.

Bermea was coordinating the transportation of marijuana within the stash house to other parts of the country.

Tejada, Ramirez and Espinoza each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine in connection with 98 kilograms of cocaine seized from within an 18-wheeler Tejada was driving also on Aug. 10, 2011.

Bermea will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.  

The case was the result of a nearly three-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation. The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of IRS-Criminal Investigation; Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; FBI; Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force; Border Patrol and the Brownsville Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Castro is prosecuting the case.

Updated July 24, 2018

Drug Trafficking