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2 Texas men sentenced to 15 and 20 years in federal prison

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Two men, who were charged separately in related cases, were sentenced to federal prison on Monday for their involvement in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and launder the drug proceeds. These sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno. This investigation is led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Marin Herrera, 57, of McAllen, Texas, and Omar Alvarez, 38, of Sullivan City, Texas, are confirmed leaders of a drug trafficking and money laundering organization. They were sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head on Feb. 28. Herrera was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment on each of two counts of conviction to be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release; he was also fined him $25,000. Judge Head sentenced Alvarez to 180 months imprisonment to be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release, and also fined him $25,000. In addition to the prison sentences, the court granted the government's motions to forfeit the interest of these men in 77 pieces of real property, which were either acquired with or used to facilitate their crimes. The properties, which now belong to the United States, include a subdivision in McAllen, Texas, used to launder illegal drug proceeds, two lots and two residences.

Herrera pleaded guilty in September 2010 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments from 2006 to 2010. Alvarez, charged in a separate case, pleaded guilty in January 2010 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Herrera and Alvarez occupied positions as leaders of a drug-trafficking and money laundering organization which distributed more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of cocaine from January 2006 to June 2010, with distribution points in Miami, Fla., Chicago, Ill., Atlanta, Ga., and Houston. The organization also laundered more than $4 million in U.S. currency during the same time period. Herrera used his two Corpus Christi-area real estate businesses - New Millennium Developers LLC and Herrera Property & Investments - to launder the drug proceeds for the drug organization with which he worked. Alvarez used one of his residences in Sullivan City, Texas, as a trans-shipment location for this organization's cocaine and drug proceeds.

The investigation leading to the criminal charges were conducted in Houston, McAllen and Corpus Christi. Assistance was provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Hampton, southern District of Texas, prosecuted these cases.