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

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.


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.


Federal District Court Judge Told a Federal Jury That They Must Keep Deliberating in the R. Allen Stanford Federal Criminal Trial

March 6, 2012

The New York Times on March 5, 2012 released the following:

“Jurors Told to Keep Talking in Financier’s Fraud Trial

By BLOOMBERG NEWS

The judge in the fraud trial of the financier R. Allen Stanford ordered the jury on Monday to return to deliberations after it said it could not reach a unanimous verdict in its fourth day of reviewing the evidence.

The eight men and four women on the jury told Judge David Hittner of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston that they had been unable to reach a verdict on each of the 14 counts, the judge said, reading a note they had written to lawyers for both sides.

Judge Hittner instructed jurors to continue deliberations, saying that the trial had taken a lot of time and money and that it was unlikely that the lawyers could put on a better trial or that another jury could be more conscientious.

”It is your duty to agree upon a verdict if you can do so, without surrendering your conscientious opinion,” Judge Hittner said.

Mr. Stanford, 61, is accused of leading a $7 billion international fraud scheme involving the sale of certificates of deposit issued by his bank, which was based in Antigua.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of the most severe charges, mail fraud and wire fraud. Mr. Stanford says he is not guilty.

The jury left for the day after it was told to resume deliberations.

Jury selection began Jan. 23. The panel heard five weeks of evidence.

The government presented testimony from investors who had bought the reportedly fraudulent C.D.’s and from the executives who had helped sell them.

The witnesses included government officials and the former chief financial officer of the Stanford Financial Group, James M. Davis, who pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges in 2009 and testified for five days against Mr. Stanford.

The defense presented former Stanford employees who said they had seen no evidence of fraud at the company. Mr. Stanford did not testify during the trial.”

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

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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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.