North Texas meth traffickers and recruiter receive significant federal prison sentences in South Texas court
MCALLEN, Texas — Five North Texas residents were sentenced Wednesday for their roles in a methamphetamine smuggling conspiracy that resulted in seven loads seized with a combined weight of more than 150 kilograms.
This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick, Southern District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The following five defendants were sentenced Oct. 23 to federal prison by U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez:
- Aren Reyes, 23 of Fort Worth, 240 months;
- Francisca Baez, of Fort Worth, 75 months;
- Yesenia Garcia, of Fort Worth, 60 months;
- Teresa Gonzales, of Fort Worth, 58 months; and
- Ofelia Hernandez Vasquez, of Saginaw, 40 months.
In handing down the sentences, the court noted this was not the only load of drugs Gonzalez, Garcia and Vasquez had smuggled; they could have changed their minds at any time and not participated in the long drive from Fort Worth. The court also mentioned that even if Baez was unable to stop her son — Reyes — from narcotics trafficking, she could have avoided joining her son in his criminal activities. Prior to assessing the 20-year sentence upon Reyes, Judge Alvarez considered the number of individuals he recruited into the drug-trafficking ring and how many he affected with such a serious and destructive drug as methamphetamine. All five defendants pleaded guilty to their criminal charges in late 2017.
According to court documents, Reyes was the main recruiter of human drug mules for this drug trafficking organization. He frequently accompanied the drug mules to the Rio Grande Valley to coordinate smuggling the illegal drugs into the U.S. He also traveled to Houston and occasionally to the state of Georgia. He escorted the mules to ensure they got the drugs successfully past ports of entry and checkpoints.
On April 30, 2017, Vasquez and her brother, Manuel Martinez, 40, of Saginaw, were arrested at the Anzalduas Port of Entry with about 30 kilos of methamphetamine in their vehicle. To avoid suspicion, the drugs were stashed in a load of milk and juice containers. Martinez was sentenced previously to 120 months in prison for his role in this crime.
The next months, Garcia and Gonzales were arrested at the Progreso Port of Entry. They attempted to smuggle into the U.S. 11 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in bags of candy in their vehicle.
Reyes also used his boyfriend, Brandon Morrison, and his mother, Baez, in the scheme. On Aug. 6, 2017, Morrison and Baez pushed a cart loaded with drinks into the Brownsville Port of Entry from Mexico. Upon investigation, authorities soon discovered 15 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in coconut water bottles in Morrison’s cart. Morrison previously was sentenced to 122 months in federal prison.
All remain in federal custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David A. Lindenmuth, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.