9 Indicted for Allegedly Growing Marijuana in Sequoia National Forest

October 21, 2011

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on October 20, 2011 released the following:

“FRESNO, Calif. — Nine central California men have been charged in an eight-count federal indictment handed down Thursday for their role in a large-scale illegal pot growing operation in the Sequoia National Forest. This information was uncovered during a multi-agency probe involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to court documents, the marijuana cultivation site was located in the Sentinel Peak area of the Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County. During the investigation, law enforcement agents seized some 16,000 marijuana plants, more than 850 pounds of processed marijuana, and three firearms, including an assault rifle. Native vegetation was cut to make room for the marijuana plants. Trash and fertilizer containers were scattered throughout the site and a nearby stream.

“The criminal groups involved in these illegal marijuana growing operations have repeatedly shown they have no qualms about using violence against those who get in their way, including unwitting members of the public who are using our state’s wilderness for recreation,” said Michael Toms, the resident agent in charge for ICE HSI in Bakersfield. “Public lands are there for everyone to enjoy, and we’re going to do whatever it takes in concert with our law enforcement partners to prevent harm to visitors and the environment.”

Among those indicted in the case are: Victor Alfonso Madrigal-Cardenas, 24; Jerman Madrigal, 19; Carlos Mendez-Sosa, 30; Juan Luis Quintero-Pimentel, 20; Gauvencio Madrigal-Chavez, 60; all of Delano, Calif. The remaining defendants, Ivan Carrillo, 29; Antonio Morales, 19; Javier Aranda-Barajas, 32; and Aurelio Anaya-Sanchez, 36; are residents of Lamont, Calif. The men are charged with conspiring to cultivate, distribute, and possess marijuana with intent to distribute it, cultivating and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute it, and damaging public lands and natural resources. Mendez-Sosa, Quintero-Pimentel, Aranda-Barajas, and Madrigal-Chavez are also charged with avoidance of examination by immigration officers and are subject to deportation if convicted of the charges. All nine defendants were detained pending trial. Their arraignment is set for Oct. 21.

In addition to ICE HSI, the investigation involved the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the California Department of Justice Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), the California Department of Fish and Game, and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.

The drug charges all carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum term of life in prison and a $10 million fine. If convicted of damaging public land and natural resources, the defendants face a sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum sentence for the immigration offense is six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.”

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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.


California’s Top Federal Law Enforcement Officials Announce Enforcement Actions Against State’s Widespread and Illegal Marijuana Industry

October 10, 2011

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on October 7, 2011 released the following:

“SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The four California-based United States Attorneys today announced coordinated enforcement actions targeting the illegal operations of the commercial marijuana industry in California.

The statewide enforcement effort is aimed at curtailing the large, for-profit marijuana industry that has developed since the passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996. That industry has swelled to include numerous drug-trafficking enterprises that operate commercial grow operations, intricate distribution systems and hundreds of marijuana stores across the state — even though the federal Controlled Substances Act makes illegal the sale and distribution of marijuana.

While the four United States Attorneys have tailored enforcement actions to the specific problems in their own districts, the statewide enforcement efforts fall into three main categories:

  • Civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in drug trafficking activity, which includes, in some cases, marijuana sales in violation of local ordinances;
  • Letters of warning to the owners and lienholders of properties where illegal marijuana sales are taking place; and
  • Criminal cases targeting commercial marijuana activities, including arrests over the past two weeks in cases filed in federal courts in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno.

The enforcement actions being announced today are the result of the four United States Attorneys working with federal law enforcement partners and local officials across California to combat commercial marijuana activities that are having the most significant impacts in communities.

“The DEA and our partners are committed to attacking large-scale drug trafficking organizations, including those that attempt to use state or local law to shield their illicit activities from federal law enforcement and prosecution,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that its distribution and sale is a serious crime. It also provides a significant source of revenue for violent gangs and drug organizations. The DEA will not look the other way while these criminal organizations conduct their illicit schemes under the false pretense of legitimate business.”

“The actions taken today in California by our U.S. Attorneys and their law enforcement partners are consistent with the Department’s commitment to enforcing existing federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), in all states,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. “The department has maintained that we will not focus our investigative and prosecutorial resources on individual patients with serious illnesses like cancer or their immediate caregivers. However, U.S. Attorneys continue to have the authority to prosecute significant violations of the CSA, and related federal laws.”

Benjamin B. Wagner, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California stated: “Large commercial operations cloak their moneymaking activities in the guise of helping sick people when in fact they are helping themselves. Our interest is in enforcing federal criminal law, not prosecuting seriously sick people and those who are caring for them. We are making these announcements together today so that the message is absolutely clear that commercial marijuana operations are illegal under federal law, and that we will enforce federal law.”

André Birotte Jr., the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, stated:“The federal enforcement actions are aimed at commercial marijuana operations, including marijuana grows, marijuana stores and mobile delivery services – all illegal activities that generate huge profits. The marijuana industry is controlled by profiteers who distribute marijuana to generate massive and illegal profits.”

Laura E. Duffy, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California, commented: “The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick. It’s a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law. In addition to damaging our environment, this industry is creating significant negative consequences, in California and throughout the nation. As the number one marijuana producing state in the country, California is exporting not just marijuana but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and perhaps irreparable harm to our youth.”

Melinda Haag, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, said: “Marijuana stores operating in proximity to schools, parks, and other areas where children are present send the wrong message to those in our society who are the most impressionable. In addition, the huge profits generated by these stores, and the value of their inventory, present a danger that the stores will become a magnet for crime, which jeopardizes the safety of nearby children. Although our initial efforts in the Northern District focus on only certain marijuana stores, we will almost certainly be taking action against others. None are immune from action by the federal government.”

Dozens of letters have been sent over the past few days to the owners and lienholders of properties where commercial marijuana stores and grows are located. In the Southern and Eastern Districts, the owners of buildings where marijuana stores operate have received letters warning that they risk losing their property and money derived from renting the space used for marijuana sales. In the Central District, where more than 1,000 stores are currently operating, prosecutors have sent letters to property owners in selected cities where officials have requested federal assistance, and they plan to continue their enforcement actions in other cities as well. In the Northern District, owners and lienholders of marijuana stores operating near schools and other locations where children congregate have been warned that their operations are subject to enhanced penalties and that real property involved in the operations is subject to seizure and forfeiture to the United States.

In the Central District and Eastern District, prosecutors this week filed a total of seven civil forfeiture complaints against properties where landlords are knowingly allowing marijuana stores to operate. One complaint filed against a south Orange County strip mall, for example, alleges that eight of the 11 second-floor suites in the buildings are occupied by marijuana stores and that one small city has spent nearly $600,000 in legal fees in its attempt to eradicate the illegal operations.

Criminal cases recently unsealed across the state reveal marijuana operations that produce huge profits, send their money and illegal narcotics to other states, and market products to young people. In a case involving a now-closed marijuana store in the San Fernando Valley, two conspirators allegedly used encrypted smartphones to coordinate marijuana sales to places as far away as New York and estimated that they would each receive $194,000 in profits per month. In a San Diego dispensary case unsealed last week, six defendants were charged in a 77-count indictment that alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy that included numerous marijuana sales to under-aged persons.

Victor S.O. Song, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation, stated: “IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners and lend its financial expertise to this effort. We will continue to use the federal asset forfeiture laws to take the profits from criminal enterprises.”

Across California, the federal government will continue to investigate and prosecute those whose actions not only violate federal laws, but also the state laws regarding the use of marijuana. The problems associated with the marijuana business have dramatically increased over the past two years, even in areas where local governments and citizens actively oppose these businesses.

The statewide coordinated enforcement actions were announced this morning at a press conference in Sacramento.”

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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Six Additional Defendants Charged in “Operation Prairie Eagle”

September 30, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 29, 2011 released the following:

“PEORIA, IL—A federal grand jury has returned indictments against six additional defendants as a result of “Operation Prairie Eagle,” a cooperative investigation targeting distribution of crack cocaine and marijuana in the Bloomington-Normal area. Fifteen defendants were previously indicted in May 2011.

The charges are the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Springfield Division and the Normal Police Department, with assistance provided by the Bloomington Police Department, the McLean County Sheriff’s Office, the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.

Four defendants, Richard George Martin, 32, of Bloomington, Ill.; Shane C. Crawford, 30, of Streator, Ill.; Chad Joseph Graff, 35, also of Streator; and Alex William Guhlstorf, 39, of Normal, are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The one-count indictment alleges the conspiracy began in 2001 and continued to the present and involved more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture of Martin’s bank accounts and cash totaling approximately $107,059.

If convicted, the statutory mandatory minimum penalty for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana is 10 years to life in prison. If a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the mandatory minimum penalty is 20 years to life in prison. With two or more prior felony drug convictions, the statutory penalty is life in prison.

In a separate indictment, Kelsie Linea Thirtyacre, 26, currently of Las Vegas, previously of Springfield, Ill., and Julie Lynn Foster, 32, of Cicero, Ill., are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The indictment alleges the conspiracy began in 2001 and continued to Apr. 5, 2011, and involved more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The women also each face three additional charges of using a telephone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

If convicted, conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute marijuana carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years to life in prison; if a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the mandatory minimum penalty is 10 years to life in prison. For using a telephone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, the penalty is up to four years in prison.

The two indictments were returned yesterday; however, the charges had remained sealed pending the defendants’ arrests and court appearances today. Crawford, Graff, Guhlstorf, and Foster were arrested this morning and appeared in federal court in Peoria this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman. All were detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending hearings scheduled next week. Foster’s next hearing date is Oct. 6; hearings for Crawford, Graff and Guhlstorf are scheduled on Oct. 7. Martin, who is currently in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, will appear at a later date. Thirtyacre was arrested this morning in Las Vegas, and will make an initial appearance in federal court in Las Vegas.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent 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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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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Christopher Coke Pleaded Guilty in Federal Court to Trafficking Large Quantities of Marijuana and Cocaine, as well as Approving the Stabbing of a Marijuana Dealer in New York

September 1, 2011

The New York Times on September 1, 2011 released the following in print:

“Jamaican Kingpin Seized After Violent Manhunt Pleads Guilty in Manhattan

By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN

Christopher Coke, a Jamaican drug trafficker whose arrest last summer came after a monthlong manhunt that left scores dead in Kingston, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to racketeering conspiracy charges in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

The guilty plea emerged during an hour of quiet dialogue between Mr. Coke and a federal judge, a proceeding that stood in sharp contrast to the violence generated last year as the Jamaican authorities searched for Mr. Coke, a neighborhood don, at the request of American prosecutors.

Mr. Coke, a short, balding man of 42, pleaded guilty to trafficking large quantities of marijuana and cocaine, as well as approving the stabbing of a marijuana dealer in New York. He faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison; the plea deal does not require him to cooperate or to testify on behalf of the government in any proceeding.

“I’m pleading guilty because I am,” he told Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr.

In seeking Mr. Coke’s extradition, Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, charged that for more than a decade Mr. Coke had controlled an international drug ring from his stronghold of Tivoli Gardens in Kingston.

His organization often transported cocaine to Miami and New York, prosecutors said. A portion of the profits, they said, went to buy guns in the United States, which were shipped back to Mr. Coke, who wielded considerable political influence in Jamaica. His organization was so well armed that it “rendered the Tivoli Gardens area virtually off-limits to the local police,” prosecutors wrote in a recent court filing.

The extradition and prosecution of Mr. Coke’s father, a leader of the same criminal organization, had been sought by the United States, but he died in a mysterious fire in a Jamaican prison cell in 1992.

The manhunt for Christopher Coke last year led to more than 70 deaths; in some instances, the police executed unarmed men, according to relatives of victims. In the months before the Jamaican prime minister, Bruce Golding, acted on the extradition request, Jamaican leaders warned officials in the American Embassy that any move to arrest Mr. Coke could result in widespread violence or civil unrest because Mr. Coke was well fortified in Tivoli Gardens and had a measure of popular support, according to a review of secret State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.

His plea deal came together in recent days after prosecutors told Mr. Coke’s lawyers that various confidential informers were prepared to testify that Mr. Coke had been involved in five murders, one of Mr. Coke’s lawyers, Stephen H. Rosen, said. One witness was prepared to testify that Mr. Coke used a chain saw to kill someone who had stolen drugs from him, according to a filing.

Under the original indictment, Mr. Coke could have faced a life sentence if convicted.

Mr. Coke’s lawyers described him as a well-spoken man who had never cursed in their presence; they said he had approached his new life in federal custody, where he is held under unusually restrictive conditions, with stoicism. “He’s never been in bad spirits,” one of the lawyers, Frank A. Doddato, said. “Let’s just say he’s one of the last tough guys.”

Dressed in a blue smock and orange socks, Mr. Coke was one of the first in the courtroom to stand when Judge Patterson entered on Wednesday, and he was the last to sit down. During a lengthy hearing in which he was asked routine questions, like whether his lawyers had provided effective assistance and whether he had recently consumed drugs or alcohol, Mr. Coke remained perched attentively on the edge of his seat, answering each question carefully.

In giving a statement of his guilt, Mr. Coke remained vague as to the specific crimes he had committed. He said that “a person gave someone narcotics on my behalf, on my instructions,” without offering any further details other than the year, 2007.

Initially, Judge Patterson voiced skepticism that the vaguely described crimes to which Mr. Coke was pleading guilty met the standard for racketeering.

When Mr. Coke pleaded guilty to approving the stabbing of a marijuana dealer in the Bronx in 2007, Judge Patterson asked whether the person had sustained serious injury — a component of the charge. Mr. Coke said he believed the person was stabbed in the face.

“Was it something that required hospitalization or was it something he could go home and brag about?” the judge asked.

Mr. Coke said that he was in Jamaica at the time and did not know the details, but that he was sure it would have required medical attention. He did not offer the name of the person who was stabbed. Asked for details about the violence, Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bharara, refused to name the victim or the attacker.

Mr. Coke acknowledged involvement in the distribution of more than three tons of marijuana and more than 30 pounds of cocaine.

In addition to the confidential informers, prosecutors built the case using wiretaps the Jamaican authorities had been collecting since 2004, when they started eavesdropping on Mr. Coke’s cellphone conversations and on those of other members of his drug trafficking enterprise, according to a court filing.

Mr. Rosen said that some 50,000 conversations had been intercepted in the investigation. Of those, he said, “there was only one in which there was discussion of violence, and I can tell you it wasn’t murder.””

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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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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Cornell Wade Sentenced in U.S. District Court in Wheeling on Federal Drug Charges

August 16, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of West Virginia on August 15, 2011 released the following:

“Wheeling Resident Sentenced on Drug Charge

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – A 35 year old Wheeling, West Virginia, resident who was a key player in the Robert “R.J.” Saunders conspiracy was sentenced in United States District Court in Wheeling before Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II announced that CORNELL WADE was sentenced today to 89 months imprisonment to be followed by four years of supervised release. In March WADE entered a plea of guilty to one count of a drug conspiracy involving over 500 grams of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana; one count of the aiding and abetting Saunders in the illegal use of a telephone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling; and one count of aiding and abetting Saunders in the possession with intent to distribute cocaine within 1,000 feet of the Madison Elementary School on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling. For these convictions WADE received 77 months in prison, and then was given another 12 months in prison for violating his supervised release on a prior federal drug conviction, for a total of 89 months of incarceration.

As part of his plea, WADE has agreed to the forfeiture of his interest in money seized from his residence on August 27, 2009, and admitted to supplying Saunders between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds of crack cocaine between 2006 and 2009. WADE was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a Federal institution.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John C. Parr and was investigated by the Ohio Valley Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force. The Task Force consists of officers from the Wheeling Police Department, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.”

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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