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Press Release

Zeta Leader “Talivan” Sent to Prison

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

LAREDO, Texas - Ivan Velasquez-Caballero, aka Talivan or 50, has been sentenced to federal prison for 30 years following his convictions of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.


Velasquez-Caballero was a plaza boss for Nuevo Laredo in 2004 under the Gulf Cartel and one of the leaders of the Zetas drug cartel from 2005 until his arrest by Mexican authorities in August 2012. He pleaded guilty April 7, 2014.


Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ordered Velasquez-Caballero to federal prison for 360 months and imposed a forfeiture order of $10 million. At the hearing, the court noted that here was sufficient evidence to show that the Zetas were probably responsible for starting the violence that still plagues Mexico today, stating that even though it has morphed into something different now, Velasquez-Caballero had some responsibility for that. Not a U.S. citizen, Velasquez-Caballero is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.


The charges stem from a Feb. 17, 2010, indictment charging Velasquez-Caballero and 33 others with 47 counts alleging drug conspiracy, kidnapping conspiracy, firearms conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to kidnap and murder U. S. citizens in a foreign country, use of juveniles to commit a violent crime, accessory after the fact, solicitation, as well as substantive money laundering, drug trafficking and interstate travel in aid of racketeering charges.


At the hearing today, the court also heard from the father of a missing Laredo woman. He stated that Velasquez-Caballero had information about her disappearance and that he would like an opportunity to sit down with him to talk about that matter. While the court was not holding Velasquez-Caballero personally responsible for the murders that were committed in this case, the court noted that he was a ranking member when those murders were ordered. Judge Alvarez recounted each of the murders that were part of the indictment and reflected on the testimony of the mother of one of the victims. The court noted that the mother’s plea for information as to the location of her son’s body so he could be given a proper burial had stuck with the court.


The drug conspiracy involved the importation and distribution of 150 kilograms or more of cocaine and 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana from Mexico into the United States. Millions of dollars in drug proceeds and over 100 firearms were also exported from the United States to Velasquez-Caballero and others in Mexico.


To date, 15 others have been convicted by plea or trial.


Velasquez-Caballero, 47, of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been in custody in the U.S. since he was extradited to Laredo on Nov. 21, 2013, where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.


The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Laredo Police Department conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation with the assistance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s BEST task force, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Marshals Service, Webb County District Attorney’s Office and the Webb County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno prosecuted the case.

Updated July 21, 2017

Drug Trafficking