BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 14-count superseding indictment was partially unsealed Thursday revealing narcotics and firearms charges against two Houston residents. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Rigoberto Vargas-Munoz, a Mexican national illegally present in the United States, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 14 counts that range from conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, to being an alien in possession of a firearm. The indictment also charges his nephew, Edgar Munoz-Munoz, a Mexican national illegally present in the United States, with two counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine.
According to the indictment, both individuals were involved in a long-term narcotics conspiracy, led by Vargas-Munoz, in which large quantities of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine were transported in cars from Mexico, through the Rio Grande Valley to Houston. The men then intended to distribute the narcotics to locations further north. Vargas-Munoz and his organization utilized ports of entry throughout the Southern District of Texas in attempts to smuggle their narcotics. Between March 2009 and November 2011, Vargas-Munoz and his organization have been linked to nine separate narcotics seizures.
On Nov. 15, Vargas-Munoz and Munoz-Munoz were taken into federal custody after ICE HSI special agents executed a search warrant at the home of Vargas-Munoz. Both remain in custody pending further proceedings. Vargas-Munoz will appear for arraignment on Dec. 14. Munoz-Munoz is expected to be transferred from Houston to Brownsville where he will be arraigned in the near future.
Both men face between 10 years and up to life in prison for the methamphetamine conspiracy and possession. Vargas-Munoz also faces between five and 40 years in prison for each count pertaining to the marijuana and cocaine conspiracy and up to 10 years for being an alien in possession of a firearm. The maximum fine is $10 million.
Assistant U.S Attorney, V. LaTawn Warsaw, Southern District of Texas is prosecuting this case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.