Forty-Seven Individuals Indicted for Alleged Drug Trafficking in the Municipality of Corozal, Puerto Rico

September 22, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 22, 2011 released the following:

“SAN JUAN, PR— On September 21, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted 47 individuals as a result of an investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD)-Bayamón Strike Force, announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The defendants are charged in a six-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, “crack” (cocaine base,) cocaine, marijuana, Oxycodone (commonly known as “Percocet”), and Alprazolam (commonly known as “Xanax”). Count six charges 36 defendants with using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

According to the indictment, Luis Agosto-López, aka “Tutin,” became the main leader of the drug trafficking organization upon the death of Gamalier Rosado-Serrano, aka “Gamma,” on or about May 9, 2004. The object of the conspiracy was to distribute controlled substances at the Enrique Landron Public Housing Project, located in the Municipality of Corozal, Puerto Rico, for significant financial gain.

It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that some of the defendants and their co-conspirators would provide payments to an undisclosed source in exchange for sensitive law enforcement information, as to dates and times of prospective interventions by the Police of Puerto Rico at the Enrique Landron Public Housing Project and/or police protection and escort to members of the conspiracy during the transportation of narcotics from different housing projects located within the Municipalities of San Juan and Bayamón to the Enrique Landron Public Housing Project.

The defendants and their co-conspirators would purchase wholesale quantities of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, and Percocet in order to distribute the same in street quantity amounts at their drug distribution points. The 47 co-conspirators had many roles in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including: seven leaders/drug point owners, one supplier, three enforcers, five runners, 24 sellers, one drug processor, three look-outs, and three facilitators.

The “drug owners” would often receive proceeds from the sale of these controlled substances. The controlled substances were sold in distinctive baggies, vials, or packaging, using stickers or brands in order to identify and maintain control of the drugs disseminated at the drug distribution points. They would use their homes to process kilogram quantities of narcotics for street level sales. The members of the drug trafficking organization would use force, violence and intimidation in order to gain and maintain control of their drug points and in order to intimidate rival drug trafficking organizations and/or expand their drug trafficking activities.

“Violent drug organizations hold our communities hostage, and promulgate fear, intimidation, and violence, threatening the well being of law abiding citizens,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “This investigation has taken dangerous criminals off the streets of Puerto Rico and send a clear message to other violent gangs that we will break their grip on our communities and bring them to justice.”

“This gang was a very violent gang which maintained control of its drug trafficking activities by way of force, violence, and intimidation, but after today’s law enforcement action, this gang will no longer cause harm to the people of Puerto Rico and the residents of the town of Corozal,” said Carlos Cases-Gallardo, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI-San Juan Field Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Alberto López-Rocafort and Cesar Rivera-Giraud.

If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $8 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Thirty-Nine Individuals Indicted for the Alleged Drug Trafficking in the Municipality of Ceiba, Puerto Rico

September 16, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 15, 2011 released the following:

“SAN JUAN, PR—On September 8, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted 39 individuals as a result of an investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) – Fajardo Strike Force, announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The defendants are charged in a six-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, “crack” (cocaine base,) cocaine, marijuana, Oxycodone (commonly known as “Percocet”), and Alprazolam (commonly known as “Xanax”). Count six charges 21 defendants with using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

The object of the conspiracy led by two women and two men was to distribute and supply controlled substances at the Jardines de Ceiba Public Housing Project and other areas within the municipality of Ceiba for significant financial gain. The leader was Karen Santiago-Vélez, aka “La Gorda” and “La Bichota”; her two brothers, Juan C. Santiago-Vélez, aka “Cabestro” and “El Gordo,” and Erick Santiago-Vélez, aka “Catote” and “Gargola”; and their mother and owner of the Percocet and Xanax distribution point, Carmen A. Vélez-García, aka “La Vieja” and “La Mother.”

The defendants and their co-conspirators would purchase wholesale quantities of heroin, cocaine, marihuana, Xanax and Percocet in order to distribute the same in street quantity amounts at their drug distribution points. The leaders would routinely use and employ juveniles under the ages of 18 to distribute narcotics.

The 39 co-conspirators had many roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including: four leaders, four managers/drug owners, four enforcers, one supplier, 10 runners, and 16 sellers.

The “drug owners” would often receive proceeds from the sale of specific controlled substances. These controlled substances were sold in distinctive baggies, vials or packaging, using stickers or brands in order to identify, and maintain control of the drugs disseminated at the drug distribution points. It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that the defendants and their co-conspirators when preparing an accounting of narcotics sold, otherwise known as “the tally sheet,” would use different letters to refer to the different types of narcotics sold and the people who sold them, as a way to hide from other persons, the real meaning and purpose of the document. They would use their homes to process kilogram quantities of narcotics for street level sales. The members of the drug trafficking organization would use force, violence and intimidation in order to gain and maintain control of their drug points and in order to intimidate rival drug trafficking organizations and/or expand their drug trafficking activities.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue those who choose to become involved in drug trafficking organizations and wreak havoc on our communities,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “The arrests in this case clearly demonstrate the dedication and commitment of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners to rid our communities of violent offenders. Ceiba will certainly be a safer place without the presence of these individuals.”

“Today’s law enforcement operation dismantles the Jardines de Ceiba drug trafficking organization, and it is worth mentioning that the leadership of this criminal enterprise was composed of family members and relatives,” said Carlos Cases, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI-San Juan Field Office. “These arrests should lead to a safer community at the Jardines de Ceiba Public Housing Project and its surrounding neighborhoods.”

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Cesar Rivera-Giraud.

If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $8 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Texas Syndicate Gang Members and Associates Sentenced to Prison

August 31, 2011

U.S. Attorneys Office Southern District of Texas on August 30, 2011 released the following:

“McALLEN, Texas – Six Texas Syndicate members and associates have been sentenced to prison for racketeering, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, kidnapping and possession with intent distribute cocaine, United States Attorney Jose Angel Moreno announced today.

At a hearing on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa sentenced the chairman of the Texas Syndicate in the Rio Grande Valley, Jose Ismael Salas, 40 of Edinburg, Texas, to 20 years in federal prison without parole for drug trafficking offenses in violation of the racketeering statute. Salas pleaded guilty on April 2, 2009, admitting to committing two acts of racketeering, namely two separate acts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance – six kilograms of cocaine on Aug. 12, 2004, and 39 kilograms of marijuana on March 28, 2003, intending to further the goals of the gang.

Five other members or associates of the gang were also sentenced yesterday by Judge Hinojosa including Fidel Valle, 45 of Donna, Texas – the source of drug supply to the gang who employed gang members to assist in his drug distribution business. He received 126 months imprisonment for possession with intent to distribute six kilograms of cocaine. On July 28, 2009,Valle pleaded guilty to the federal felony drug charge acknowledging that on Aug. 12, 2004, upon being contacted by Salas, Valle agreed to sell approximately six kilograms (approximately 13 pounds) of cocaine to Salas’s associates. That drug load was found and seized by law enforcement officers during a traffic stop of a Ford pickup seen leaving Valle’s residence in Donna on Aug. 12, 2004.

Romeo Rosales, 41 of Raymondville, Texas – an admitted Texas Syndicate gang member who was convicted of kidnapping Amancio Pinales-Garcia – was sentenced to 151 months imprisonment. Reyes, son-in-law of the kidnapping victim, sought a monetary reward to turn over Pinales-Garcia to unknown subjects in Mexico. Pinales-Garcia was shot several times in the low torso during the struggle and subsequently died in Mexico. Rosales pleaded guilty to kidnapping Pinales-Garcia on March 3, 2009.

Noel De Los Santos, 33, of Donna, Texas was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment for violent crimes in aid of racketeering, that is, for the murder of Crisantos Moran on March 20, 2003. According to trial testimony, Moran had been ordered by the Texas Syndicate to kill a rival gang member who lived near Penitas, Texas. De Los Santos and Jose Armando Garcia, both Texas Syndicate gang members, agreed to accompany Moran to commit the murder. However, Moran failed to carry out the order as given. Instead, De Los Santos and Garcia shot and killed Moran for failing to carry out the order. On Aug. 10, 2010, Garcia was convicted of racketeering and violent crimes in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 5, 2011.

Cristobal Hernandez, 31, and Arturo Rodriguez, 28, both of Brownsville, Texas, were sentenced to 120 and 240 months imprisonment, respectively, for violent crimes in aid of racketeering arising from the murder of Marcelino Rodriguez in June 2007. After members of the Texas Syndicate obtained a copy of a sealed court document from an employee of a McAllen area law firm which represented Marcelino Rodriguez in a federal case, the murder of Marcelino Rodriguez was approved by the leadership of the Texas Syndicate. Hernandez and Arturo Rodriguez were recruited by Raul Galindo to commit the murder. Galindo shot Marcelino Rodriguez in the back of the head while Arturo Rodriguez set the vehicle on fire with gasoline. On Aug. 10, 2010, Galindo was convicted of violent crimes in aid of racketeering and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant. On Jan. 5, 2011, Galindo was sentenced to life imprisonment.

All six of the defendants sentenced yesterday are in federal custody and will remain in custody pending transfer to Bureau of Prisons facilities to be designated in the near future.

All 13 charged in this case have been convicted and sentenced to prison. Juan Pablo Hinojosa, who was convicted by a federal jury of racketeering and violent crimes in aid of racketeering, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Jan. 5, 2011. On Jan. 28, 2010, Benjamin Piedra pleaded guilty to violent crimes in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to 120 months confinement and three years of supervised release on Feb. 22, 2011. Adan Roberto Ruiz pleaded guilty to criminal information charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, while Jorge Puga pleaded to a criminal information charging him with possession with intent to distribute 39 kilograms of marijuana. Ruiz and Puga received 52 and 37 months, respectively. Joel Carcano Jr. pleaded guilty providing false statements – admitting he lied to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents when he falsely stated he did not provide a copy of downward departure motion to Texas Syndicate members. This document was used as the basis to order the murder of the government’s informant. On Feb. 22, 2011, Carcano was sentenced to 52 months custody and a three-year-term of supervised release.

The investigation leading to the federal charges and subsequent conviction of these admitted Texas Syndicate gang members was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Robert Wells, Jr. prosecuted the case.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Tahirah Carter Sentenced in Baltimore Federal Court to 135 months in Federal Prison for Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin

August 23, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 22, 2011 released the following:

“Heroin Co-Conspirator Sentenced to Over 11 Years in Prison for Drug Trafficking

BALTIMORE—U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Tahirah Carter, age 35, of Cockeysville, Maryland, today to 135 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

According to her plea agreement, from at least November 2005 to July 2008 Carter conspired with others to distribute heroin. Carter acted as a courier and point of contact for a conspirator’s source of supply in New York, traveling from Baltimore to New York to obtain kilogram quantities of heroin and transport cash for payment of the heroin. Carter admitted that her participation in the conspiracy resulted in the distribution of more than 30 kilograms of heroin.

Joy Edison, age 25, of Elkton, Maryland, pleaded guilty to her participation in the conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 26, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorneys Tony Gioia, Michael Studdard, and Tim Lake; the FBI; the IRS; and the Baltimore City Police Department for their assistance in this investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys James G. Warwick and James T. Wallner, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Louis R. Mickell Jr., Segsie Magee, and Walter Daniel Price Charged With Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine; and Reginald O. Posey, Charged With Possession With Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine

August 15, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 12, 2011 released the following:

“Drug Raids in Covington and Forrest Counties Yield Four Arrests and $37,000 in Meth

HATTIESBURG, MS— Louis R. Mickell Jr., 48, of Mt. Olive; Segsie Magee, 36, of Mt. Olive; and Walter Daniel Price, 39, of Taylorsville, have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine; and Reginald O. Posey, 36, of Collins, is charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney John Dowdy announced today.

The defendants were arrested on Thursday, August 11, and the multi-agency team executed search warrants of their residences where agents seized approximately 373 grams of methamphetamine as well as a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun and a 2003 Cadillac Escalade. The methamphetamine has an estimated street value of $37,000.

The investigation was conducted by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the DEA, and the Covington County Sheriff’s Department. The arrests and search warrant executions were conducted by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the DEA, the FBI, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Covington County Sheriff’s Department. During the joint investigation, assistance was also provided by the Forrest/Perry County District Attorney’s Office.

All four defendants were arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker and were detained without bond pending a detention hearing next week. The case has been set for trial on October 17, 2011 before U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett. If convicted, Posey faces a maximum penalty of 80 years in prison. Mickell, Magee, and Price each face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“This is another example of how law enforcement at all levels of government are working together in these lean budget times to try to make our streets safer,” said U.S. Attorney Dowdy.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Neal Indravadan Desai and Patrick Fernand Brupbacher Sentenced In Beaumont Federal Court to Federal Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

August 11, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Texas on August 10, 2011 released the following:

“Houston Men Sentenced In Federal Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

BEAUMONT, Texas – U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced that two Houston men have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a major drug trafficking conspiracy. The sentencing hearings were held today before U.S. District Judge Ron Clark in the Eastern District of Texas.

Neal Indravadan Desai, 37, of Houston, pleaded guilty on Feb. 1, 2011, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and was sentenced to 151 months in federal prison today.

Patrick Fernand Brupbacher, 34, of Houston, pleaded guilty on Jan. 18, 2011, to using a telephone to further the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison today.

According to information presented in court, in August 2008, an investigation began into a Houston-based drug trafficking organization that was distributing large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine throughout Houston and the Beaumont, Texas area. In June 2009, agents began utilizing court-ordered telephone intercepts in an effort to determine those involved in the conspiracy, the amount of drugs being distributed and the source of the drugs. Law enforcement officers and agents also participated in undercover purchases of methamphetamine and revealed at least 40 persons were involved in the conspiracy and that no less that 113 pounds of methamphetamine and 31 kilograms of cocaine were distributed. At least 20 kilograms of cocaine was seized through undercover buys and during the execution of search warrants and arrests. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on June 3, 2010, charging 35 defendants with various drug trafficking charges. An additional five defendants were named in a superseding indictment on Nov. 3, 2010. All defendants have since been convicted.

This case is being investigated by the DEA, ICE, ATF, Texas Department of Public Safety, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, the Beaumont Police Department, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, Galveston Police Department, Houston Police Department and the Texas Rangers. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Englade.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Pedro Martinez III, Former Laredo Police Officer, Sentenced to Prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine

August 5, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on August 4, 2011 released the following:

“Former Laredo Police Officer Sentenced to Prison for Drug Trafficking

LAREDO, Texas – Former Laredo Police Department (LPD) officer Pedro Martinez III was sentenced to prison today by Senior U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Charged along with co-conspirator Guillermo Villarreal of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, Martinez, 34, of Laredo, pleaded guilty on Feb. 17, 2010, to that offense and also to conspiring with former LPD officer, Orlando Jesus Hale, to accept bribes to escort cocaine-loaded vehicles through Laredo. Today, Judge Kazen sentenced Martinez to 78 months in federal prison to be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release.

At the time of his guilty plea, Martinez admitted that he introduced Villarreal, who he knew was engaged in trafficking cocaine, to another person for Villarreal to work out arrangements to store cocaine at the person’s residence. The residence was located near Villarreal’s residence and facilitated his cocaine trafficking activities. Villarreal made several sales of cocaine to undercover officers. Each time, Villarreal retrieved the cocaine from the storage facility owned by the person to whom Martinez had introduced him. On Sept. 29, 2009, investigating agents executed a warrant at the person’s residence located near Villarreal’s residence and seized approximately three kilograms of cocaine, a metal press used to press cocaine into kilogram-size bricks plus other narcotics trafficking paraphernalia such as scales, a blender and plastic wrap. Villarreal, who has also pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy charge, is pending sentencing.

Martinez also admitted conspiring with former LPD officer Hale to escort cocaine-loaded vehicles through Laredo. The officers used their police-issued radios to monitor LPD dispatch traffic during the escort. In 2008, Martinez met with an FBI undercover employee (UCE) and agreed to and did escort two vehicle – on Oct. 15, 2008, and again on Nov. 13, 2008, – that he believed contained approximately 20 kilograms of actual cocaine. Hale was involved in escorting the loaded vehicle in November. During each escort, Martinez actually escorted a “sham” load of cocaine from south Zapata Highway to north Laredo. For each escort, Martinez was paid $1,000 by an FBI UCE. Hale was charged separately for his role in this conspiracy and convicted in September 2010 by a jury’s verdict following a six-day trial of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense. He was sentenced on April 19, 2011, to a total of 295 months in federal prison without parole and fined $1000.

Martinez has been permitted to remain on bond pending the issuance of a court order to surrender to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future where he will serve his sentence.

The investigation leading to the charges and ultimately the conviction of Martinez and the others was conducted by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Homeland Security Investigations with the cooperation of the Laredo Police Department. Former Assistant United States Attorney Samuel Sheldon and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roberto F. Ramirez and James McAlister prosecuted the case.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Jury Convicts Kingpin and Members of his Family of Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering

July 23, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on July 22, 2011 released the following:

“LAREDO, Texas -Late yesterday afternoon, a federal jury returned guilty verdicts on 14 of 16 counts charged against the five remaining defendants charged as a result of Operation Reload, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Twenty-nine defendants were arrested as a result of Operation Reload and, with these convictions, all 29 have now been convicted.

The jury found Leandro Salas Galaviz, 35, and Norberto Alaniz, 37, of Laredo, guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Galaviz was also found guilty of six additional counts of possession with intent to distribute either cocaine or marijuana, while Alaniz was found guilty of an additional count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Leandro Salas Galaviz, Mayra Lopez, 31, Josefina Galaviz, 55, and Yesica Magana, 31, were all found guilty of conspiracy to launder drug proceeds in addition to at least one other money laundering count. United States District Judge Micaela Alavarez, who presided over the more than weeklong trial, has scheduled sentencing for all five defendants for Oct. 13, 2011.

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Operation Reload was an investigation spearheaded by the Laredo offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) which culminated in several indictments being returned in December 2009 and unsealed in January 2010. Following the unsealing of the indictments, law enforcement authorities arrested 29 defendants charged for their part in drug and money laundering organizations based out of Laredo.

Leandro Salas Galaviz is an illegal resident living in Laredo under the false identity of Daniel Obregon. Galaviz and co-conspirator, Norberto Alaniz, stand convicted of shipping multi-ton quantities of marijuana and cocaine from the Laredo area to destinations in Dallas, Fort Worth, Chicago and other areas. During the course of trial, the jury heard testimony which identified Galaviz as having been placed in Laredo by the Gulf Carel/Zetas and responsible for finding transportation for marijuana and cocaine shipments. Alaniz was identified as one of many other co-conspirators who assisted Galaviz in transporting or arranging for the transportation of marijuana and cocaine loads from Laredo to Dallas and other destinations.

Leandro Salas Galaviz, along with his wife, Lopez, his mother, Josefina Galaviz, and his sister, Yesica Magana, all of Laredo, were convicted for their part in the money laundering conspiracy which involved the use of multiple bank accounts used to conduct financial transactions designed to conceal and disguise the true nature and ownership of the thousands of dollars of cash proceeds deposited and withdrawn from those accounts. These defendants also conducted numerous financial transactions through the use of bank accounts and in relation to the purchase and sale of vehicles and real property. Lopez and Josefina Galaviz invested drug proceeds in a local Laredo business incorporated under the name of Via Italia Devine also in an attempt to conceal the true illicit source of the money.

Between 2004 through 2009, evidence showed that almost $2 million in cash drug proceeds were deposited into those accounts. In April 2008, Leandro Salas Galaviz and his mother, who was employed as a temporary worker at the time, paid $148,000 towards the purchase of a lot on the golf course of the Plantation Subdivision. Between June 2008 and December 2009, Leandro Salas Galaviz used cash proceeds in excess of $400,000 towards the construction of a luxury home on the lot.

Through testimony, the jury learned that in 2003, when Leandro Salas Galaviz and his wife first came to the United States, he was working at a doughnut shop making doughnuts in the Dallas area. After moving to Laredo, he worked as a car salesman in various car dealerships, but made little income. The jury heard recorded conversations in which Leandro Salas Galaviz was recorded saying that the drug trafficking job was all about making money. “One gets to work well and you get paid well.” In recorded conversations, he is heard discussing having shipped millions of dollars in drug proceeds back to Mexico and the Cartel/Zetas. The government’s evidence also proved that large money transfers were being sent from Mexico to the various bank accounts used by Leandro Salas Galaviz, Lopez and Josefina Galaviz. Money laundering carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the amount of the financial transaction, whichever is greater.

Numerous recorded conversations of Leandro Salas Galaviz were also presented during the trial and played for the jury proving his leadership role of the Laredo based drug trafficking organization. Many of the conversations were recorded in 2007 when the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas were still aligned. During many of the recordings, Leandro Salas Galaviz admits he worked directly under Jaime Gonzalez Duran aka Hummer, a known high ranking Zeta, who is now in the custody of Mexican authorities. Leandro Salas Galaviz also admitted he had direct ties to Heriberto Lazcano, aka Zeta 14, Ivan Velasquez Caballero, aka Talivan or 50, and Velasquez’s brother, Danny Velasquez, aka 52, Sergio Pena Mendoza, aka El Concord – now in Mexican custody, and Miguel Angel Trevino, aka 40. Leandro Salas Galaviz is also overheard discussing the recent promotion of Miguel Angel Trevino within the cartel and noting his disapproval because Trevino whom he calls a “Javalin” was difficult to work with, was a cheat, had a bad temper and would kill his people. He noted that it was going to be hard to continue to making money with Trevino in charge.

During recorded conversations, Leandro Salas Galaviz refers to the Gulf Cartel/Zetas as “La Compania” and notes that La Compania has given him power. In a 2007 conversation, Leandro Salas Galaviz is recorded saying he had been trafficking drugs for the Company for five years. He tells others to think of him as if he were part of “la letra,” a reference to being a Zeta. He is also recorded boasting that if it weren’t for his work in Laredo, they (a reference to the Carel/Zetas) would not eat. In yet other recorded conversations, Leandro Salas Galaviz discusses having sent millions of dollars to Mexico in tractors for loads of drugs delivered in the United States. Ironically, in yet other conversations, he is heard saying that half the people he started with (in drug trafficking) are dead and the other half are in jail. Leandro Salas Galaviz stated in recordings that , “if they ever arrest me here, I never get out.” Galaviz faces a maximum of life imprisonment without parole for the drug conspiracy conviction as well as millions in fines.

Numerous other recorded conversations involved Norberto Alaniz admitting he was working for Leandro Salas Galaviz when he was arrested in 2006 at the Highway 59 Checkpoint driving a tractor which contained 62 kilograms of cocaine and his having continued to work for Leandro Salas Galaviz after the arrest by finding drivers who could transport loads of drugs. Alaniz admits to having arranged for the transportation of a ton of marijuana for Leandro Salas Galaviz which was later seized by law enforcement. Alaniz also faces a maximum of life imprisonment without parole for his drug conspiracy convction.

In addition to the guilty verdicts, the jury also returned special verdicts forfeiting to the United States a home in the Prestwick subdivision of Plantation which the government proved was built with drug proceeds, as well as $118,000 from a bank account used during the money laundering scheme.

With the exception of Magana, who has been permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing, all others are in and will remain in federal custody without bond pending sentencing.

One of the other key defendants arrested and charged as a result of Operation Reload, Omar Compean, was sentenced this week by Judge Alvarez. Compean, the head of a transportion cell that transported drug loads for Leandro Salas Galaviz, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana prior to this trial. Judge Alvarez sentenced Compean to 262 months in federal prison without parole and fined him $250,000.

Assistant United States Attorneys Mary Lou Castillo and Mary Ellen Smyth tried the case.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Hector Natal Charged by a Federal Criminal Complaint with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base (“Crack Cocaine”)

June 15, 2011

United States Attorney’s Office District of Connecticut on June 14, 2011 released the following press release:

“NEW HAVEN MAN CHARGED WITH CRACK DISTRIBUTION

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that HECTOR NATAL, also known as “Boom Boom,” 25, of New Haven, was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint charging him with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”).

According to the allegations set forth in the criminal complaint and statements made in court, between December 2010 and April 2011, NATAL conspired with others to distribute crack cocaine. Specifically, on March 29, 2011, NATAL sold approximately 36 grams of crack cocaine to an individual working with law enforcement in exchange for $1800.

Following his arrest this morning at 76 Haven Street in New Haven, NATAL appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport and has been ordered detained.

If convicted of the charge, NATAL faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, the Connecticut State Police, the New Haven Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General. This case is being prosecuted by Deputy United States Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Assistant United States Attorney Stephen B. Reynolds, with assistance and support from the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office in New Haven.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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131 Indicted in Puerto Rico for Alleged Drug Trafficking Crimes; Includes 89 Law Enforcement Officers

October 7, 2010

Eighty-nine law enforcement officers and 44 others in Puerto Rico have been charged in 26 indictments unsealed today and returned by a grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the month of September 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico announced today.

The individuals face charges ranging from conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, attempt to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and use of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking offense. The offenses charged cover a period from in or about July 26, 2008 until September 21, 2010.

The arrests today are the result of Operation Guard Shack, the largest police corruption investigation in the history of the FBI. Close to 750 FBI agents were flown in to Puerto Rico from across the country to assist in the arrests early this morning. Currently 129 individuals are in custody and four subjects remain at-large.

The indictments unsealed today are the result of 125 undercover drug transactions conducted by the FBI in several locations in Puerto Rico, from July 2008 until September 2010. The individuals’ participation in the drug transactions consisted of allegedly providing armed protection to a drug dealer during the sale of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine. Allegedly, in exchange for their security services during the undercover drug transactions, the individuals, a majority of whom are law enforcement officers, received payments ranging from $500 to $4,500 per transaction.

In a sting operation like this, there is always the issue of whether the undercover transactions were manipulated by the agents to become a form of entrapment. Unfortunately, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies typically use tactics when investigating individuals that could be conceived as entrapment. Meaning, the undercover agents “entrap” an individual by luring him into an illegal situation. These type of situations are legal, and usually always result in an arrest of the individual that was tricked into such a situation.

The law enforcement officers indicted today are from the following agencies: 60 defendants from the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD); 16 defendants from various municipal police departments; and 12 officers from the Puerto Rico Corrections Department. The remaining defendants include: three Puerto Rico National Guard soldiers; two U.S. Army officers; eight former law enforcement officers; one administrative examiner in child support matters; one employee from the Social Security Administration; and 30 civilians.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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