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Press Release

Several charged with stealing vehicles and taking them into Mexico

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

LAREDO, Texas – A total of eight San Antonio residents are now in custody following the return of a 12-count indictment related to the theft and exportation of motor vehicles, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Law enforcement took all into custody in law enforcement actions this week - Guadalupe Alex Armendariz-Delgadillo, 46, Ivan Pacheco, 36, Julio Escamilla, 26, Derrick Ramirez, 28, Richard Joseph, 29, Michael Martinez, 20, Enrique Moreno, 23, and Leonardo Santillan, 21. They are expected to make their initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate judge in the Western District of Texas before transportation to Laredo to face further proceedings.

A federal grand jury returned the indictment under seal May 2 which was unsealed upon each of their arrests.

Between June 6, 2021, and Feb. 12, 2022, each of the eight either exported or attempted to export and aided in the export or attempted export of a motor vehicle they knew was stolen, according to the charges.

Armendariz-Delgadillo, Pacheco and Joseph are also charged in separate counts of unlawfully transporting one of those stolen vehicles from the United States to Mexico from Aug. 6 - Dec. 4, 2021.

If convicted, each faces up to 10 years imprisonment as well as a maximum $250,000 possible fine, upon conviction.  

The FBI conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed Operation Black Echo with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety, police departments in Laredo and San Antonio and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Sturgis and Brian Bajew are prosecuting the case.

The investigation was brought as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed Operation Black Echo. OCDETF is the largest anti-crime task force in the country. Its mission is to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug trafficking and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States through prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency task forces that leverage the authorities and expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated May 10, 2023