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Narcotics
06/30/2015

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Former head of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel sentenced in Southeast Texas to 30 years in federal prison for drug trafficking

Defendant must also pay a $100 million fine as part of his sentence

BEAUMONT, Texas — The former head of the Mexican drug trafficking organization, the Gulf Cartel, or Cartel del Golfo, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in federal prison for drug trafficking.

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney John M. Bales, Eastern District of Texas.

This joint law enforcement investigation was led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, 23, of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison and a $100 million fine by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone. Saenz-Tamez pleaded guilty Jan. 13 to distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to information presented in court, a federal investigation into the large-scale trafficking of illegal drugs from Mexico into Texas led to the identity of Saenz-Tamez. The investigation revealed Saenz-Tamez was responsible for shipping a half ton of cocaine and 90 tons of marijuana into eastern Texas and then to locations across the nation, including: Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland and Georgia. As a result of this scheme, $100 million was laundered by Saenz-Tamez and his drug trafficking organization.

“It’s a good day for law enforcement whenever we can take several tons of drugs off America’s streets,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. “It’s even better when we can also dismantle and cripple the organization behind those drugs, and remove its leadership, as our law enforcement team did in this case.”

Saenz-Tamez was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 5, 2013, and charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to money launder.  Saenz-Tamez was arrested by federal agents on Oct. 9, 2014 while shopping in Edinburg, Texas.

This case resulted from the following ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) joint investigations: Operation South Park, Operation La Mano Negra, Operation Frontera Chica and Operation Iceberg. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Additional investigative assistance was provided by Houston HIDTA Group 33, Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Attorney General’s Office, National Guard of Texas’s Joint Counterdrug Beaumont, Houston and Nacogdoches (Texas) police departments; and Jefferson County and the Harris County (Texas) sheriff’s offices.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Craft, Eastern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/01/2015