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Contraband
01/08/2013

Florida man pleads guilty in south Texas for conspiracy, transporting cocaine

6 other defendants part of this conspiracy are still awaiting trial

LAREDO, Texas — A south Florida man pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in a conspiracy to transport five kilograms or more of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Rene Cardenas, 36, of Miami, was named in a sealed indictment returned by a grand jury Aug. 28, which alleged a drug trafficking organization transported five kilograms or more of cocaine since 2008. The organization transported cocaine from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to Houston and Miami on a regular basis. Six others also charged are currently awaiting trial.

According to court documents, Cardenas admitted he was one of the individuals who further distributed the cocaine once it reached Miami, and was also responsible for sending payment for the cocaine back to Laredo. One such shipment was recovered May 25, 2010, when a truck driver was stopped with $422,001 and a drug ledger concealed in a compartment in the trailer's rear axle.

Cardenas faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, and a $10 million fine. The United States is also seeking a money judgment in the amount of $2,408,204. U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker accepted the plea Tuesday; sentencing will occur on a date yet to be determined.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Hepburn and Elizabeth Rabe, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case.