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Press Release

Houston Marijuana Ringleader Sentenced to 18 Years in Federal Prison

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

In Del Rio yesterday, a federal judge sentenced Houston resident Michael Dewayne Dennis, aka Michael Spiller, to 18 years in federal prison for leading a conspiracy that distributed over 11,000 kilograms of marijuana throughout the country, announced U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Deputy Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee, San Antonio Division; and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Houston Division.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Alia Moses ordered Dennis, 38, to pay a $2,500 fine and be placed on supervised release for a period of five years after completing his prison term.  Judge Moses also granted the government’s motion to forfeit the defendant’s interest in the following property:  $197,313 in seized currency, two real properties in Houston, and 19 firearms.  Judge Moses further ordered a $7.2 million money judgment against the defendant for proceeds derived from his criminal conduct.

On September 12, 2019, a federal jury convicted Dennis of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.  According to evidence presented during trial, Dennis led a marijuana trafficking conspiracy from at least July 2014 to June 2018.  During this time Dennis and his co-conspirators brought marijuana into the U.S. from Mexico and transported the marijuana to Dennis’ compound in Houston where it was packaged for sale and distribution.  One of the smuggling methods involved illegal aliens carrying loads of marijuana on their backs to pick-up locations near Del Rio.  After the marijuana was dropped off, drivers transported the marijuana to Houston.  Over the course of the conspiracy, Dennis facilitated the distribution of at least 11,194 kilograms of marijuana.

“This sentence identifies how HSI works to investigate the infrastructure of a criminal enterprise,” said HSI Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Craig Larrabee. “When organizations accumulate assets from illicit activities, HSI and law enforcement partners will work to dismantle the organization and target those assets.  This lasting effect helps to better protect our communities.”

On July 11, 2018, HSI and DEA agents, with assistance from the Houston Police Department, arrested Dennis following a stand-off with law enforcement.  During the stand-off, Dennis brandished a firearm and was shot.   He has since remained in federal custody.

“The prosecution and sentencing of Michael Dennis sends a clear message to all who engage in the distribution of illegal drugs,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux.  “DEA and our partners will continue to work together to see that anyone involved in this illicit trade will be brought to justice.”

HSI, DEA and U.S. Border Patrol conducted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed Operation Bale Out Boys.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amy Hail, John Kennedy and Antonio Franco prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering operations of those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.


Updated March 18, 2021

Drug Trafficking