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14 convicted drug traffickers, money launderers sentenced to lengthy prison terms

LAREDO, Texas — Fourteen convicted drug traffickers and money launderers were sentenced Monday to federal prison terms as high as 33 years, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. Those sentenced May 21 include truck drivers, warehouse employees and others who assisted in supervising and transporting narcotics and/or drug proceeds.

The joint investigation was coordinated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The following agencies assisted with the investigation: U.S. Marshals Service, Laredo Police Department, Webb County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Border Patrol, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

"The sentencing of these 14 individuals should send a powerful message to those who smuggle drugs and launder the illicit profits," said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. "We are committed to making our communities safer, and we will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to achieve that goal."

Those sentenced Monday include the following:

  • Sergio Segovia, 43, of Laredo, who has a prior drug conviction and occupied a position as organizer within the Laredo-based drug transportation cell. He received a sentence of 405 months in federal prison which will be followed by 10 years of supervised release.
  • Segovia's wife, Elvia Gonzales, 40, and Segovia's brother, Jose Guadalupe Segovia, 44, also of Laredo, received sentences of 57 and 292 months, respectively.
  • Convicted murderer and fugitive Gregorio Ontiveros III, 32, of Laredo, was arrested as part of this investigation and was handed a 188-month-term of imprisonment which will run concurrently with the 90-year sentence he received for his conviction of a 2000 murder in Webb County.
  • The following Mexican nationals residing in Laredo: Rosa Ester Garcia, 36, Jose Antonio Gutierrez, 52, Victor Mendoza, 52, Jesus Adrian Alarcon, 36, and Rodolfo Fuentes, 45, were handed 97, 97, 240, 108 and 60-month prison terms.
  • The remaining five individuals sentenced include: Francisco Javier Banuelos, 41, Lucio Luis Lara Jr., 49, Jorge Carrizales, 31, from Laredo received 87, 180 and 87 months, respectively; Jose Manuel Mendez Rocha, 33, and Jose Benjamin Galvan Moreno, 32, both Mexican nationals from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, received 71 and 30 months, respectively.

In addition to the federal terms of imprisonment, each defendant was ordered to pay a money judgment in the amount of $41.9 million, the amount shown to have been laundered during the course of the conspiracy. Additionally, the non-U.S. citizen defendants will face deportation and cancellation or denial of any previously granted visa or legal residency status.

According to court documents, these co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy to distribute bulk quantities of cocaine using commercial tractor-trailers and other means from Texas to Georgia and returned drug proceeds to Laredo, Texas, and into Mexico. During the course of the investigation, agents seized more than $7.5 million in drug proceeds and more than 450 kilograms (about 1,000 pounds) of cocaine. Agents also seized a drug ledger that attributes the movement/distribution of about 12,500 kilograms (27,500 pounds) of cocaine and $41. 9 million in drug proceeds by these and other co-conspirators.

Sixteen other co-conspirators identified in this investigation are scheduled for sentencing later this year.

Those charged in relation to this case were identified through a long-term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Investigation dubbed "Operation Havoc."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Graciela Rodriguez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.