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6 members of a south Texas drug trafficking organization sentenced

MCALLEN, Texas — Six members of the Escobedo Drug Trafficking Organization were sentenced Wednesday for their respective roles in distributing tons of marijuana, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Those sentenced include the following: Juan Escobedo-Anguiano, 44, and Rolando Ramirez-Garcia, 19, both Mexican nationals; Jose Antonio Alvarez, 47, of Roma, Texas; Ricardo Ramirez-Ovalle, 48, of Edinburg, Texas; Alonzo Garcia-Pena, of Alton, Texas; and Jose Ricardo Lopez-Ramos, 31, a U.S. permanent resident. They were all charged with substantive counts of drug trafficking and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa sentenced Garcia-Pena to 12 years in federal prison, upwardly departing from the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines for his conviction of possessing with intent to distribute marijuana. His prison sentence will be followed by a five-year term of supervised release.

According to court documents, Escobedo-Anguiano and Alvarez pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana; they were sentenced on April 9 to 15 years and seven years imprisonment, respectively. Ramirez-Ovalle, Lopez-Ramos and Ramirez-Garcia each entered guilty pleas to drug trafficking. On Monday they received respective sentences of 87, 39 and 24 months in prison.

"HSI vigilantly and aggressively investigates drug smuggling organizations and the violence they bring to our communities," said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. "These prison sentences are a testament to that effort. We are committed to making our communities safer, and we will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to achieve that goal."

From June until July 13, 2010, Escobedo-Anguiano negotiated with an undercover special agent and eventually delivered nearly $3,000 to obtain a stash house. He also coordinated the delivery of about 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) of marijuana to the undercover special agent over the course of the conspiracy. Alvarez was responsible for delivering several loads of marijuana to the undercover special agent. Lopez-Ramos, Ramirez-Ovalle, Garcia-Pena and Ramirez-Garcia each assisted in further transporting the marijuana.

All six men have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan Villescas, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.