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January 20, 2023Richmond, VA, United StatesNarcotics

HSI Richmond investigation lands Houston resident in prison for narcotics, money laundering offenses

RICHMOND, Va. — Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Richmond led an investigation that resulted in a 55-month prison sentence for a Houston resident found guilty of drug trafficking and money laundering offenses.

Hector Ruiz, 30, received the four-and-a-half-year sentence Jan. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for his part in a multistate drug trafficking conspiracy with ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

According to the investigation, Ruiz directed shipments of 20 to 30 kilograms of heroin a week into the Richmond area while playing a key role in the drug conspiracy. He was the intended recipient of a shipment of 18 kilograms of heroin discovered by HSI Brownsville.

“This sentence is a great example of what can be accomplished when federal and local law enforcement agencies work in collaboration,” said HSI Washington Acting Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon. “We will continue our efforts to arrest and disrupt illegal narcotics trafficking activities like this one in order to keep our communities safe from the harmful effects of illicit drugs.”

HSI began its investigation into Ruiz’s activities in June 2019, when special agents seized five commercial truck batteries containing controlled substances in Brownsville, Texas. HSI Richmond and HSI Brownsville identified the shipment’s intended recipient as a Mexican citizen residing unlawfully in Richmond. Special agents arrested Ruiz after a traffic stop, and a search of his residence led HSI to identify him as the person who coordinated the shipment.

Further investigation revealed that Ruiz was supplying narcotics to a known drug kingpin in Henrico and laundering proceeds through businesses he established in Mexico for a known drug trafficking organization.

Ruiz fled the United States for Mexico following 2019’s events but returned in June 2021. He resided in Chicago until relocating to Houston in March 2022. HSI Richmond obtained a federal criminal complaint against Ruiz and arrested him without incident in Houston with the assistance of HSI Houston.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia indicted Ruiz for conspiracy to distribute a kilogram or more of heroin and money laundering charges in April 2022. Ruiz pleaded guilty to those charges in June 2022.

HSI Richmond led the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation with significant assistance from HSI Houston, HSI Brownsville, the Virginia State Police, the Richmond Police Department, the Henrico County Police Division, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia .

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.