HOUSTON — The leader of a local drug trafficking organization, who distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and transported millions of dollars in drug proceeds to Mexican drug traffickers, was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 22 years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.
This Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed "Operation GoodRum" was conducted jointly by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID).
Isaias Gallegos, aka "Mickey," 32, of Sugar Land, Texas, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and aiding and abetting money laundering. U.S. District Judge David Hittner sentenced Gallegos Aug. 15 to 262 months in federal prison on the conspiracy count and 240 months on the money laundering count; the sentences are to be served concurrently. Gallegos was also sentenced to a five-year term of supervised release.
The 18-month investigation identified Gallegos as the leader of the family operated conspiracy. The following accomplices were also charged with receiving and selling cocaine from Mexican drug sources to distributors in Houston and throughout the United States:
- Suleyka Gallegos, 32, wife, also of Sugar Land;
- Wendy Perez Gallegos, 35, sister, from Laredo, Texas;
- Julio C. Villanueva-Barbosa, 40, brother-in-law, also from Laredo;
- Fernando Gallegos-Saucedo, 23, cousin, from Houston; and
- Francisco Paniagua Romero, 38, uncle, from Houston.
Alvaro Dalberto Palma, 33, and Keith Jamail Sonia, 36, both of Houston, were identified as cocaine distributors for the organization. Jorge Alberto Briones, 40, and Mario Garza Mora, 37, both of Laredo, and J. Jesus Santos, 40, of Houston, were identified as transporters of drug proceeds between Houston and Mexican drug traffickers.
From November 2009 through April 2010, HSI special agents seized $1,844,760 in drug proceeds from couriers transporting the funds from the Gallegos organization in Houston to drug traffickers in Mexico. The investigation culminated April 28, 2010 after search warrants were conducted at locations used by the organization, resulting in the seizure of 147 kilograms of cocaine, an additional $160,704 in drug proceeds, and 11 assault rifles.
A residence purchased with drug proceeds in the name of Suleyka Gallegos on the 5200 block of Ireland in Houston revealed a drug manufacturing operation used by the organization. At the residence, a substance was added to the cocaine and then repackaged to appear as if it were in its originally shipped purity. This process allowed the organization to command higher prices for lower quality cocaine.
Suleyka Gallegos, Palma, Sonia and Villanueva-Barbosa all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and were sentenced to 87, 120, 135 and 87 months in federal prison, respectively.
Garza Mora, Perez-Gallegos, Gallegos-Saucedo, Romero, Briones and Santos pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the conspiracy to money launder and were sentenced to 41, 87, 151, 210, 97 and 97 months, respectively.
In addition to the seized drug proceeds, multiple automobiles and the residence located on Ireland in Houston used by the organization for their drug trafficking activities were also seized by officers during the course of the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Hanes, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.