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Contraband
12/07/2011

7 members of marijuana trafficking network arrested on drug, firearms charges

7 members of marijuana trafficking network arrested on drug, firearms charges
7 members of marijuana trafficking network arrested on drug, firearms charges

EL PASO, Texas – Six of the seven members of an El Paso-based criminal organization that trafficked drugs and guns remain in federal custody after their arrest Nov. 30 by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other agencies.

A federal magistrate on Dec. 7 ordered Jose Manuel Campa, 19, of El Paso, released on $10,000 bond. Six other individuals arrested as part of a multi-agency investigation remain in federal custody pending trial.

During this investigation, authorities seized about 160 pounds of marijuana, 10 firearms, including three Draco Model pistols and seven Model GP/WASR AK-47 assault rifles, and about 7,500 rounds of ammunition.

The defendants are charged as follows:

  • Feliciano Oaxaca-Alcala, 33, is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana, two substantive counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
  • Ramon Roberto Flores, 30, is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana, and two substantive counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
  • Jose Manuel Campa, 19, is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana, and one substantive count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
  • Billy Omar Ruvalcaba-Madrid, 21, is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana, and two substantive counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
  • Eddie Escarzaga, 33, is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana.
  • Armando Cereceres, 28, is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana, and one count of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
  • Hector Arturo Salcido-Elias, 41, is charged with one count of managing a residence for the unlawful storage and distribution of marijuana.

The defendants were charged in a six-count federal grand jury indictment returned Nov. 22 and unsealed Nov. 30.

"HSI and DEA partnered to strike a hard blow to a criminal network," said Dennis Ulrich, acting special agent in charge for ICE HSI in El Paso. "Our agencies' joint efforts combat all facets of transnational crimes, including the smuggling of weapons into Mexico that potentially could be used by drug cartels to support their ongoing criminal enterprises."

At a detention hearing Dec. 6, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Guaderrama ordered that Escarzaga remain in federal custody pending trial. The remaining defendants all waived their right to a detention hearing prior to agreeing to remain in federal custody pending trial.

Upon conviction of the conspiracy charge, defendants face a maximum 20-year federal prison term. Oaxaca-Alcala and Flores face a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison on the substantive drug charge, because of penalty enhancement due to their criminal history. Other defendants face up to five years in federal prison.

The managing a residence charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The obliterated serial number/firearm charge and the felon-in-possession charge each carry a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.

This case is being investigated by the Strike Force, which includes agents from the following agencies: the DEA, ICE HSI, the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the El Paso Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.