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October 6, 2014Brownsville, TX, United StatesNarcotics

Members of south Texas drug trafficking organization sentenced to federal prison

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A leader of a south Texas drug trafficking organization was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 16 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute about 1,000 pounds of marijuana,

This sentence was announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This case resulted from an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation involving the following agencies:  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation; the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Brownsville Police Department.

Francisco Javier Maya, 35, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle Oct. 7 to 189 months for the conspiracy charge and 189 months on the possession charge. These sentences will be served concurrently. At the hearing, additional evidence was presented, including that he was a leader and organizer of the conspirators. Maya will also be required to serve five years of supervised release after he completes his prison term.

The following individuals were sentenced Oct. 10 after their conviction on related charges: Phillip Cross, 56, Cade Jobe, 37, and Julio Treto, 56, to respective terms of 58 months, 38 and 47 months in federal prison.  Jose Angel Marichalar Jr., 33, Yisnel Garcia Gonzalez, 30, Angel Barraza, 34, Jesus Gonzalez, 35, Delton Hinderliter, 35, Adonys Hurtado-Gutierrez, 38 will be sentenced at a later date.   All had previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.

Four others were charged in a separate but related case. Jesus Mauricio Juarez, 28, Ruben Gonzalez-Cavazos, 30, Adolfo Lozano-Luna 36, and Alberto Martinez, 51.  They had also previously pleaded guilty. Martinez received a sentence of 70 months Oct. 10; Lozano-Luna, Juarez and Gonzalez-Cavazos were sentenced previously to respective terms of 70, 31 and 41 months.

According to court documents, during Maya’s trial, the jury heard evidence that placed him in a conspiracy with the others involving several marijuana loads each totaling between 300 and 1,000 pounds between the summer of 2012 and January 2013. Maya’s role in the drug trafficking organization was to provide tractor trailer drivers to drive marijuana loads to locations including Houston and Taylor. Maya shared in the profits of each load, making between $4,000 and $5,000 per load.

On one occasion, Maya provided his wife’s bank account number for another conspirator to deposit the drug proceeds. Evidence was presented that $6,500 was deposited in Maya’s wife’s account on Nov. 28, 2012, right after a successful 300-pound marijuana delivery to Taylor by the organization.

Evidence showed Maya was a follower of the Santeria religion. The jury saw photos of Maya’s residence in Mission, Texas, which depicted numerous images of what was considered to be altars showing glasses of alcohol, knives, a machete, kettles, feathers and substances that appeared to be blood. Testimony also included descriptions of two rituals involving the sacrifice of animals.

In December 2012, Maya had a Santeria priest, known as a “Padrino,” perform rituals with the organization to “bless” a 1,000-pound marijuana load that was destined for Houston. After meeting with the Padrino, Maya, Gonzalez-Cavazos and Juarez decided the marijuana load should remain in the Rio Grande Valley. The next day, a second ritual, attended by all five defendants, was performed and the 1,000 pounds of marijuana was to be transported to Houston. However, the marijuana was stolen from the group by unknown individuals that evening. After the theft and a subsequent improvised explosive device detonated at Juarez’s residence in Brownsville, law enforcement was able to piece together the events and conspirators involved in this drug trafficking organization.

Maya will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angel Castro and Jody Young, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.

Updated: 07/12/2016