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Southeast Texas man sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A southeast Texas man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for drug trafficking and money laundering, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This long-term investigation was conducted jointly by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Texas Department of Public Safety.

Ricardo Guerrero, 55, from Mathis, Texas, was sentenced to life in prison June 5 by Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head. As part of his sentence, Guerrero was also ordered to forfeit three properties to the United States and pay a $500,000 money judgment. A federal jury in Corpus Christi convicted Guerrero March 18 after deliberating about two hours following an eight-day trial. Guerrero was also sentenced for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

"It's a significant event when we can disrupt the supply chain and keep volumes of drugs off our streets for life," 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."

During trial, the government provided evidence that Guerrero was the leader of the conspiracies, which existed from 2009 through his arrest Sept. 26, 2013. Guerrero was proven to be a major dealer in methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.

Over the course of the two-year investigation, law enforcement agents seized more than six kilograms of methamphetamine, five kilograms of heroin and six kilograms of cocaine. In addition to these amounts, trial testimony also proved that Guerrero's criminal organization was moving kilogram-amounts of methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine at least once or twice per month. Guerrero obtained these illegal narcotics from Mexico and had them smuggled into Texas at Brownsville, McAllen or Laredo. He stored the narcotics 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 as far west as San Antonio.

The money-laundering conspiracy charges stemmed from Guerrero concealing money he made from his drug trafficking, by purchasing cattle and vehicle at auctions.

The government presented testimony 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. Those defendants all entered guilty pleas to their respective roles.

  • Jesus Borja-Borja, 26, 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, were convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
  • Wayne Dedow, 49, of Mathis; Miguel Montemayor, 37, of Beeville; and Douglas Massey, 34, Ricky Bazaldua, 37, and Ramon Alonzo Gonzales, 45, all from Corpus Christi, pleaded guilty to transporting or selling specific loads of narcotics for Guerrero.
  • Six others: Krystan Rios, 23, Eddie Hernandez, 32, Victor Arocha, 54, Sulema Vasquez, 50, Jada Gregg Warren, 30, and Daniel Sosa, 44, 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. They included: Carlos Molina, 71, and Roberto Contreras, 57, both of Robstown; Richard Pacheco, 42, 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.

All 21 of the other defendants have already been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 18 months to 180 months.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad W. Cowan, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.