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Laredo lawyer sentenced to 30 months in prison for paying nearly $50,000 in drug-trafficking proceeds to ensure drug defendant's silence

Defendant also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine

DALLAS — Alonzo Ramos, 40, a criminal defense lawyer practicing in Laredo, Texas, was sentenced on Monday to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine following his April guilty plea to interstate travel in aid of racketeering.

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Ramos, who was allowed to remain on bond, must surrender to the Bureau of Prisons by Oct. 4 to begin serving his sentence.

At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay noted that Ramos abused his position of trust as a lawyer, and stated, "If officers of the court are allowed to violate the law, then what message does that send to the general public?"

According to his plea agreement with the government, Ramos must surrender any and all of his licenses to practice law, and shall cease practicing law.

Court documents reveal that in January 2008, an individual referred to as L.T. was arrested and detained in Louisiana for drug trafficking. L.T. informed federal authorities that Ramos visited him unexpectedly at jail to ensure that L.T. was not cooperating with authorities. L.T. had been part of a drug-trafficking organization based in Mexico that was supplying cocaine in Louisiana and several other states. Shortly thereafter, federal authorities began recording phone calls between L.T. and Ramos.

According to a phone call on March 5, 2008, Ramos offered to facilitate a monetary payment to L.T. from drug trafficking proceeds. In a subsequent phone call that day, Ramos and L.T. discussed putting a relative of L.T. in touch with Ramos to receive the payment. Ramos promised to visit L.T. later that the week.

On March 7, 2008, Ramos traveled to Louisiana from Texas and met L.T. at the jail to distribute the drug proceeds. During this meeting, Ramos informed L.T. that he had received $48,500 in drug trafficking proceeds and that the money was at his house in Laredo. The two then discussed the details of how the money would be transferred, agreeing that the money would be given to L.T.'s relative.

During a phone call on March 8, 2008, Ramos told L.T. to have his relative contact him. However, unbeknownst to Ramos, L.T.'s relative was also cooperating with law enforcement. On March 13, 2008, the relative phoned Ramos who instructed him to meet him at a Laredo location. Later that day, Ramos gave L.T.'s relative the $48,500 at the prearranged location. The relative surrendered the cash to federal law enforcement authorities.

Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Tromblay and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Dewald prosecuted this case.