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South Texas man convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering and possessing a firearm

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A federal jury has convicted a south Texas man of conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, conspiracy to launder money and being a felon in possession of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Texas Department of Public Service.

"It’s a significant event when we can disrupt the supply chain and keep volumes of drugs off our streets," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "It’s even better when we can also dismantle and cripple the organization behind those drugs and remove its leadership, as HSI and our Texas DPS partners did in this case."

Court evidence showed that Ricardo Guerrero, 55, of Mathis, was the leader of the methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine conspiracies, which existed from 2009 through his arrest on Sept. 26, 2013. The jury returned its verdict March 19 following an eight-day trial and about two hours of deliberation. The jury also separately voted to forfeit three of Guerrero’s residential properties to the U.S.

Over the course of the two-year investigation, HSI agents seized more than six kilograms of methamphetamine, five kilograms of heroin and six kilograms of cocaine. In addition to these amounts, trial testimony proved that Guerrero’s criminal organization was moving kilogram amounts of methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine at least once or twice a month. He obtained the illegal narcotics from Mexico and had them crossed into the United States at Brownsville, McAllen or Laredo. Narcotics were stored on numerous properties he owned in Mathis and in neighboring counties. Guerrero sold the methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine to sources throughout south Texas, as far north as Houston, and even as far west as San Antonio.

The money laundering conspiracy involved concealing money Guerrero made from his drug trafficking, primarily through cattle and vehicle auctions.

The government testimony was presented from 52 witnesses, which included information about the arrests of 21 other conspirators that had been working for Guerrero in the drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies. The defendants all entered guilty pleas to their respective roles prior to trial, including:

  • Jesus Borja-Borja, 25, of Edinburg, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy, specifically, to being Guerrero’s main source of supply in obtaining the illegal narcotics;
  • Elena Barrera, 36, of Mathis and Frank Coronado, 30, of Brownsville, pleaded guilty and were convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering;
  • Wayne Dedow, 49, of Mathis; Miguel Montemayor, 36, of Beeville; Douglas Massey, 34, Ricky Bazaldua, 36 and Ramon Alonzo Gonzales, 44, all from Corpus Christi, pleaded guilty to transporting or selling specific loads of narcotics for Guerrero;
  • Krystan Rios, 23, Eddie Hernandez, 32, Victor Arocha, 54, Sulema Vasquez, 50, Jada Gregg Warren, 30 and Daniel Sosa, 43, all of San Antonio, entered guilty pleas to their roles in transporting or selling specific loads of narcotics for Guerrero.

The remaining conspirators pleaded guilty to their roles in transporting or selling narcotics for Guerrero. These included Carlos Molina, 71 and Roberto Contreras, 57, both of Robstown; Richard Pacheco, 41, of Karnes City; Lee Roy Tanguma, 38, of Beeville; Benjamin Hernandez, 38, of Sandia; and Emmanuel Pabon Lugo, 37 and Amalia Dimas, 36, both of Corpus Christi.

Molina, Hernandez and Contreras have already been sentenced to 44, 151 and 188 months imprisonment, respectively, as have Pacheco and Lugo, who each received 63-month terms. The remaining co-defendants will be sentenced April 17, 2014.

Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head presided over the trial and has set Guerrero’s sentencing for June 5. At that time, he faces life in federal prison and a possible fine of up to $10 million.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad W. Cowan, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.