Two Weslaco Residents Arrested For Trafficking Marijuana
An Indictment Is A Formal Accusation Of Criminal Conduct, Not Evidence.
LAREDO, Texas – An indictment has been partially unsealed following the arrest of Santiago Martinez, 37, and Casimiro Bautista, 38, alleging their involvement in a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
The indictment was returned under seal Oct. 16, 2013, and partially unsealed upon the arrests of the Weslaco residents today. It remains sealed as to those charged but not as yet in custody.
The two men are expected to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter M. Ormsby tomorrow morning.
The indictment alleges Martinez and Bautista conspired to transport 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana since July 2001. Specifically, the indictment alleges Martinez and Bautista acted as leaders and organizers within a drug organization in South Texas who arranged for the purchase of marijuana and transportation from the United States-Mexico border to regional distributors in Memphis, Tenn., and Tampa, Fla.
The allegations further contend that this organization packaged, wrapped and weighed marijuana prior to transportation north. The organization allegedly concealed the marijuana in semi-tractor trailers among legitimate loads of goods, in hidden compartments in “low boy” trailers and in hidden lead-lined aftermarket compartments in recreational camping vehicles. Proceeds from the sale and transportation of this marijuana were collected and sent back to South Texas, according to the indictment. The proceeds were allegedly placed in hidden compartments in tractor trailers or recreational camping vehicle or were deposited in bank accounts.
If convicted, the two face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and a possible $10 million fine. The government is also seeking a money judgment for nearly $12 million, alleged proceeds from the criminal activity.
The case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth R. Rabe is prosecuting the case.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.