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Contraband
09/06/2012

6 south Texas men plead guilty to marijuana trafficking

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Six men pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday as a result of the efforts of a multi-agency investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

The defendants were arrested in June on charges relating to their participation in a large-scale south Texas drug-trafficking organization. The criminal organization employing the defendants specialized in avoiding the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint by crossing through ranches adjacent to the checkpoint.

The following men from south Texas each entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos Sept. 6: Jesus Marroquin, 49, of Rio Grande City; Alejandro Garza, 42, of Mission; Adrian De la Garza, 41, of Sullivan City; and Rene Salazar, 42, Jose Figueroa, 35, and Edwardo Munoz, 35, all of Falfurrias. Garza and Marroquin were identified as leaders in this criminal organization.

Garza, Marroquin, Salazar and De la Garza pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of marijuana. Based upon the amount of the marijuana involved, they face no less than 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. Figueroa and Munoz were also convicted of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

In addition, Garza agreed to criminally forfeit several firearms; Marroquin agreed to forfeit 145 pieces of expensive jewelry, worth about $25,000.

Sentencing has been set for Dec. 4. With the exception of De la Garza and Salazar, who were released on bond, all have been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

The following agencies assisted with this investigation: Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Texas Department of Public Safety; Brooks County Sheriff's Office; U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol; and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie K. Hampton, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.