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Press Release

Two More “Rip Crew” Members Sent to Federal Prison

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

McALLEN, Texas – Two men involved with a rip crew responsible for multiple home invasions and carjackings to steal narcotics in Hidalgo County have been ordered to prison, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Miguel Marin Cerda, 31, pleaded guilty to possessing with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, while his nephew - Alfredo Avalos-Sanchez, 27 - pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robbery.

Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ordered Cerda to serve 130 months in prison, while Avalos-Sanchez received an 87-month-term of imprisonment. Cerda and Avalos-Sanchez are Mexican citizens who illegally resided in Mission. As such, they are expected to face deportation proceedings following their prison sentences.

In considering their violent crimes, Judge Alvarez stated the events forming the charges are incidents that have come to be expected in Mexico and other Central American countries which do not allow residents to feel safe. The court noted that even though some victims were often drug traffickers themselves, it does not excuse the defendants’ behavior. She furthered that drug trafficking is bad in itself, but is exacerbated when combined with carjackings and home invasions.

The defense argued their actions were mistakes, but the court concurred with prosecutors that these were intentional profit-driven actions. They continued to engage in conduct even after prior arrests for similar conduct and close calls with life and death events. Such instances included violent crimes involving totaled vehicles and multiple discharges of firearms which could have taken lives.

In imposing the prison terms, the court considered multiple offenses. As a result of the conspiracy, the organization terrorized local residents with multiple home invasions and carjackings as well as the distribution or attempted distribution of multiple kilograms of cocaine and hundreds of kilograms of marijuana. 

Specifically, the court considered their involvement in a carjacking March 12, 2017, in McAllen in which co-conspirators took a car believed to contain a controlled substance. Another instance occurred in Pharr in April 2017 which involved the discharge of firearms in a residential neighborhood in efforts to steal approximately 14 kilograms of cocaine contained within two vehicles. 

The men also were also part of a home invasion June 6, 2017, in McAllen. The organization actually entered the wrong residence and terrorized a family, including a pregnant female.

Cerda was further held partially accountable for an April 2017 home invasion in San Juan, in which other co-conspirators assaulted juveniles in efforts to steal multiple kilograms of cocaine.

Cerda and Avalos-Sanchez have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Others who have also pleaded guilty in the conspiracy and are pending sentencing include Roberto Lee Rodriguez aka el Tio or Pica, 39, and Sergio Alejandro Gallegos aka Tovy, both of Mission; and Mexican nationals Jose Garcia-De La Torre aka Coco, 22, Carlos Guadalupe Aquino-Pacheco aka Tomy, 20, Gustavo Angel DeLeon-Covarrubias aka Tripa, 19, Jose Arturo Reyes-Sanchez aka Gordo, 19; and Cesar Alejandro Tovar-Guillen aka Nucho or el Sobrino, 31.

They all also remain in custody.

The FBI Safe Streets Task Force and Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Crime Lab and police departments in McAllen, Pharr, San Juan, Mission and Palmview. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roberto Lopez Jr. and K. Alejandra Andrade are prosecuting the case.

Updated July 23, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime