Houston Independent School District Police Officer Charged with Alleged Extortion

October 18, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 17, 2012 released the following:

“HOUSTON— Richard Cano, 46, of Katy, has been arrested and charged with extortion under color of official right, United States Attorney Kenneth Magison announced today.

The criminal complaint alleges Cano, a Houston Independent School District (HISD) Police officer, was involved in a towing scheme using his authority as a peace officer. Cano allegedly stopped individuals on public streets and would then have the vehicle towed without further law enforcement action. According to the complaint, Cano would then meet with the tow truck driver and split the towing fee.

Cano was arrested yesterday and made his initial appearance before U.S. District Judge Mary Milloy just a short time ago, at which time he was order released upon posting $50,000 bond.

If convicted, Cano faces up to 20 years in federal prison, as well as a possible $250,000 fine.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, Houston Police Department-Internal Affairs, the Texas Rangers, with the assistance of HISD and other agencies. Assistant United States Attorney James McAlister is prosecuting the case.”

US v. Richard Cano – Criminal Complaint

18 U.S.C. § 1951

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

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Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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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 and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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


Twenty-Five Alleged Members and Associates of Texas Mexican Mafia Prison Gang Indicted

October 12, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 11, 2012 released the following:

Charges Include Drugs, Guns, and Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering

HOUSTON— Alleged members or associates of the notorious Texas Mexican Mafia (TMM) prison gang have been indicted for trafficking in heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine; firearms violations; and for distributing explosive materials, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw.

Those arrested today are alleged members or associates of the TMM gang who allegedly make money by trafficking heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine and by selling firearms.

Among those charged included Michael Mares, 50, an Onalaska Police officer who knowingly provided firearms to a convicted felon on two occasions, according to the indictment.

Also taken into custody in the Houston area were Robert Arechiga, 34; Alexander Garcia, 39; Adam Guzman, 43; George Maldonado, 45; Jorge Montemayor, 36; Juan Sarmientos, 45; Tony Valdez, 37; and Michael Villarreal, 32. They are expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy tomorrow. Ruben Esparza, 34, was arrested today in the Corpus Christi area, where he will make his initial appearance before being transferred to Houston, while Jose Cerda, 26, and Michael A. Villarreal, 22, were taken into custody in the San Antonio area. Francisco Galvan, 46, was taken into custody just moments ago at the Texas-Mexico border.

Three others—Carlos Romero, 30; Gilbert Gonzalez, 41; and Enrique Bravo, 38—are considered fugitives and a warrant remains outstanding for their arrests. Photos are below. Anyone with information as to their whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI at 713-693-5000. Anonymous tips can also be provided through the website http://www.stophoustongangs.org.

Also charged in this case are Juan Deluna, 40; Johnny Reyes, 51; Ricardo Sanchez, 33; Valentin Ayala-Guiterrez, 51; Ernesto Villarreal, 35; Eric Gomez, 36; Armando Villarreal, III, 23; Rene Gonzalez, 44; and Alvin Valadaz, 42. These nine defendants are currently in custody and are expected to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge on these charges in the near future.

According to the 22-count indictment, the TMM formed in the early 1980s in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

The indictment alleges the defendants conspired with one another and others from 2008 through October 2012 to procure illegal drugs and distribute the drugs to numerous associates involved in drug trafficking in order to carry out the business of the gang. Alleged gang members also illegally sold numerous assault rifles, other guns, and even detonation cord during the course of the investigation, according to the indictment.

The four-year investigation resulted in the return of a sealed indictment October 4, 2012, which was unsealed following the execution of arrest warrants early this morning.

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a $10 million fine. All substantive counts carry an equal or lesser possible sentence depending upon the amount of drugs involved.

The charges are the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, which included agents and officers with the FBI; DPS; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; police departments in Baytown, Houston, Pasadena, and Katy; Bureau of Prisons; Harris County Sheriff’s Office; TDCJ-Office of Inspector General; and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tim S. Braley and Mark Donnelly.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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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 and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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


Policeman among 25 charged in Mexican Mafia indictment | Narco Confidential | a Chron.com blog

October 11, 2012

 

Policeman among 25 charged in Mexican Mafia indictment | Narco Confidential | a Chron.com blog.


Drug crime sends first-time offender grandmom to prison for life

May 10, 2012

Houston Chronicle on May 10, 2012 released the following:

“Houstonian, who has no secrets to trade, is doing more time than drug lords
By Dane Schiller

FORT WORTH – The U.S. government didn’t offer a reward for the capture of Houston grandmother Elisa Castillo, nor did it accuse her of touching drugs, ordering killings, or getting rich off crime.

But three years after a jury convicted her in a conspiracy to smuggle at least a ton of cocaine on tour buses from Mexico to Houston, the 56-year-old first-time offender is locked up for life – without parole.

“It is ridiculous,” said Castillo, who is a generation older than her cell mates, and is known as “grandma” at the prison here. “I am no one.”

Convicted of being a manager in the conspiracy, she is serving a longer sentence than some of the hemisphere’s most notorious crime bosses – men who had multimillion-dollar prices on their heads before their capture.

The drug capos had something to trade: the secrets of criminal organizations. The biggest drug lords have pleaded guilty in exchange for more lenient sentences.

Castillo said she has nothing to offer in a system rife with inconsistencies and behind-the-scenes scrambling that amounts to a judicial game of Let’s Make A Deal.

“Our criminal justice system is broke; it needs to be completely revamped,” declared Terry Nelson, who was a federal agent for over 30 years and is on the executive board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “They have the power, and if you don’t play the game, they’ll throw the book at you.”

Castillo maintains her innocence, saying she was tricked into unknowingly helping transport drugs and money for a big trafficker in Mexico. But she refused to plead guilty and went to trial.

In 2010, of 1,766 defendants prosecuted for federal drug offenses in the Southern District of Texas – a region that reaches from Houston to the border – 93.2 percent pleaded guilty rather than face trial, according to the U.S. government. Just 10 defendants were acquitted at trial, and 82 saw their cases dismissed.

The statistics are similar nationwide.

The latest case in point came this week with the negotiated surrender of a Colombian drug boss Javier Calle Serna, whom the United States accuses of shipping at least 30 tons of cocaine.

While how much time Calle will face is not known publicly, he likely studied other former players, including former Gulf Cartel lord Osiel Cardenas Guillen.

Cardenas once led one of Mexico’s most powerful syndicates and created the Zetas gang. He pleaded guilty in Houston and is to be released by 2025. He’ll be 57.

As the federal prison system has no parole, Castillo has no prospect of ever going home.

“Any reasonable person would look at this and say, ‘God, are you kidding?’ ” said attorney David Bires, who represented Castillo on an unsuccessful appeal. “It is not right.”

Castillo’s elderly mother in Mexico has not been told she’s serving life, and her toddler grandson thinks she’s in the hospital when he comes to visit her in prison.

Castillo is adamant about her innocence.

“Put yourself in my shoes. When you are innocent, you are innocent,” she said. “I don’t say I am perfect. I am not … but I can guarantee you 100 percent that I am innocent of this.”

At the urging of her boyfriend, Martin Ovalle, Castillo became partners with a smooth-talking Mexican resident who said he wanted to set up a Houston-based bus company.

But the buses were light on passengers and shuttled thousands of pounds of cocaine into the United States and millions of dollars back to Mexico. Her lawyers argued she was naive.

Castillo claims she didn’t know about the drug operation, but agents said she should have known something was wrong when quantities of money and drugs were repeatedly found on the coaches.

“After hearing all the evidence as presented from both the government and defense in this case, the jury found her guilty … ,” said Kenneth Magidson, chief prosecutor here.

Former federal prosecutor Mark W. White III said if Castillo had something to share, she might have benefited from a sentence reduction for cooperating.

“Information is a cooperating defendant’s stock in trade,” White said, “and if you don’t have any, … the chances are you won’t get a good deal.”

Castillo has faith that she’ll somehow, some day, go free. Her daily routine doesn’t vary: when she eats breakfast, when she works, when she exercises, and when she brushes her hair, which has gone from red-blond to black and gray. The gray gets respect in prison.

“I will leave here one day with my head held high,” she said. “I don’t feel like a bug or a cockroach. I am a human being, with my feet firmly on the ground.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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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 and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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


Harris County Precinct One Constable Jack Abercia Indicted by a Houston Federal Grand Jury Along with Others

January 13, 2012

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas on January 12, 2012 released the following:

Abercia Indicted

HOUSTON – Long-time Harris County Precinct One Constable Jack Abercia has been arrested along with his Chief Lieutenant Weldon Kenneth Wiener and Office Chief Michael Butler following the return of a 13-count federal indictment, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris.

The sealed indictment was returned Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, and was unsealed in its entirety just minutes ago following the arrests of Abercia, 78, Wiener, 72, and Butler, 56, all of Houston.

The indictment charges the all three with conspiracy to violate various federal laws, and charges Abercia and Wiener with unlawfully accessing the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database on multiple occasions for private financial gain. Abercia and Butler are also charged with bribery in connection with the hiring of an otherwise unqualified applicant for a deputy constable position in return for a cash bribe totaling $5,000.

“Assistance from the public is often critical in these very important investigations,” said Morris. “Anyone with information about potential wrongdoing by a public official is urged to contact the FBI.”

All three are charged with conspiracy. Abercia and Wiener are charged in 11 counts alleging they accessed the NCIC database or caused another to access it on 11 occasions without authority or in excess of official authority in return for private financial gain. Abercia and Wiener would, according to the indictment, solicit and accept cash bribes in return for having unauthorized criminal background checks run on prospective employees of various businesses. NCIC is restricted to genuine law enforcement purposes. Users must undergo training and screening, have passwords that are monitored and are instructed that the database is not to be used for non-law enforcement reasons nor beyond in the performance of their official duties. While the indictment charges 11 specific acts of unauthorized access or access in excess of official authority in November 2011, it also alleges the practice had been occurring in the office for a longer period of time.

The bribery charge in the final count of the indictment alleges Abercia and Butler hired an otherwise unqualified applicant to be a deputy constable in exchange for a $5,000 cash payment. According to the indictment, Butler physically received the money, through an intermediary, and allegedly gave Abercia $3,000, while keeping $2,000 for himself.

All three men are expected to appear in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy.

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, all three face up to five years in prison. Abercia and Wiener will also face an additional five years in prison for each count of exceeding authorized computer access, while Abercia and Butler could also receive an additional 10 years in prison if convicted of the bribery charge. All 13 counts also include a possible fine of $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release on each count.

This case was investigated by the FBI Houston Law Enforcement/Border Corruption Task Force with special assistance from the Houston Police Department – Internal Affairs Division and the Texas Rangers and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wynne.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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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.


Jerald Bland Plead Guilty in Houston Federal Court to One Count of Transportation

January 4, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 3, 2012 released the following:

“Houston Man Enters Guilty Plea to Transporting a Woman for Commercial Sex

HOUSTON— Jerald Bland aka “Moe Betta,” 30, of Houston, has pleaded guilty to one count of transportation, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Bland admitted to transporting a woman to Louisiana intending that she engage in prostitution. An investigation by the Houston FBI Innocence Lost Task Force, which includes the Houston Police Department, developed this case using on line advertisements for the victim’s services and hotel records from several hotels in Louisiana.

On March 8, 2010, Houston Police Department officers conducted an undercover operation which resulted in the apprehension of Bland and the identification of the female victim. At that time, a silver Sony HDX Camera was discovered along with pictures of females in sexually provocative poses and photos of Bland flashing money. According to the factual basis in support of the guilty plea today, between May 26 and June 7, 2010, Bland transported the female victim to Beaumont, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La. While out of town, ads were posted for sexual services on the Internet which were discovered by investigating officers and corresponded to the dates of the hotel reservations where they stayed.

Several employees from the hotels involved recognized Bland and the victim as being at the hotels. At one location, the business center was used to post Internet ads for prostitution which was discovered by an employee.

Bland kept all the money the woman earned in relation to the sexual services performed.

U.S. Judge Nancy F. Atlas, who accepted the guilty plea today, set sentencing for March 20, 2012, at which time Bland faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. Upon completion of any prison term imposed, Bland also faces a maximum lifetime term of supervised release. He will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sherri L. Zack.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

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.


Stanford Seeks to Delay Trial After Defense Expert Witnesses Quit Over Pay

January 3, 2012

Bloomberg on January 2, 2012 released the following:

“By Laurel Brubaker Calkins

R. Allen Stanford, accused of running a $7 billion investment fraud, asked for a three-month delay in his trial set for Jan. 23 after his expert witnesses quit over not being paid, according to court filings.

Stanford’s experts haven’t been paid for four months, Ali Fazel, Stanford’s lead criminal-defense lawyer, said in court papers filed Dec. 30 in federal court in Houston. They quit last week after the U.S. Court of Appeals, which controls budgets for Stanford’s publicly funded defense, ruled that it will “modify and limit the expert budget moving forward” and withhold payments to them until after the trial, Fazel said.

Stanford, 61, has been in custody since he was indicted in June 2009 on charges of defrauding investors through bogus certificates of deposit at his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.

Stanford was declared mentally fit for trial on Dec. 22, after completing eight months of rehabilitation at a federal prison hospital in Butner, North Carolina. U.S. District Judge David Hittner found the former financier had sufficiently recovered from head injuries suffered in a September 2009 jailhouse assault and an addiction to anxiety drugs prescribed by prison doctors following the attack.

Fazel said in the Dec. 30 filings that prosecutors don’t oppose a one-week delay in tomorrow’s deadline for filing expert reports in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa told Hittner last month that the government doesn’t oppose a delay of six to eight weeks in Stanford’s trial to give him more time to review documents with his attorneys.

Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment today on the request for a three-month delay, citing a gag order issued by the judge.

The case is U.S. v. Stanford, 09-cr-00342, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).”

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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.