Drug Trafficking Leader Pleads Guilty

BROWNSVILLE–A man who led a drug trafficking organization that took drugs from Mexico to Houston pled guilty Thursday just a few months after he was indicted.

Rigoberto Munoz-Vargas, 37, of Mexico admitted he was in possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and being an illegal immigrant in possession of a firearm, federal prosecutors said.

Munoz-Vargas confessed to United States District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen today that he arranged for the shipment of 1.3 kilograms of 100% pure methamphetamine to be delivered to his girlfriend’s apartment in the Houston area. He intended to use scales found during a search of his girlfriend’s residence to weigh the methamphetamine, after which he intended to distribute it.

Munoz-Vargas also admitted he had purchased a .40 caliber Fabrique Nationale handgun and stored it at the apartment where the methamphetamine was found. Munoz-Vargas is a Mexican national with no legal status to enter, work or reside in the United States.
Munoz-Vargas was arrested, along with his nephew, Edgar Munoz-Munoz, 24, also a Mexican national, following the return of a partially unsealed, 14-count indictment in December 2011 and a search of his home as well as his girlfriend’s apartment by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The 2 ½-year investigation leading to the charges revealed that Munoz-Vargas was the leader of a long-term narcotics conspiracy, in which large quantities of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine were transported from Mexico, through the Rio Grande Valley, to Houston.
Munoz-Vargas and his organization utilized ports of entry throughout the Southern District of Texas in attempts to smuggle narcotics. Between November 2001 and March 2009, Munoz-Vargas and his organization were linked to nine separate narcotics seizures with a total of more than 300 kilograms of marijuana and seven kilograms of cocaine.
The indictment remains partially sealed pending the arrest of the remaining co-conspirators.
Munoz will remain in federal custody pending his sentencing before Judge Hanen on May 7.  He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and up to a life for the methamphetamine conviction as well as a maximum of 10 years for being an illegal in possession of a firearm. He also faces up to $10 million in fines.

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