Drugs Found and Smuggers Sentenced in Valley

ROMA–A joint investigation involving federal and local law enforcement leads to the discovery of more than 1,400 pounds of marijuana at a home in the Rio Grande Valley.

ICE officials report the ICE HSI RAC Falcon Dam along with Roma Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Rio Grande City Police Department and Starr County Sheriff’s Department seized the drugs at a house on the 800 block of 4th St. in Roma.

When agents executed the warrant, there was nobody at home and the search for the suspects is ongoing.

MCALLEN–Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday members of a drug smuggling group were sentenced to federal prison after they plead guilty.

Six people associated with the Escobedo drug trafficking organization were sentenced for their roles in the distribution of marijuana, according to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Juan Escobedo-Anguiano, 44, and Rolando Ramirez-Garcia, 19, both Mexican nationals; Jose Antonio Alvarez, 47, of Roma, Texas, Ricardo Ramirez-Ovalle, 48, of Edinburg, Texas, and Alonzo Garcia-Pena, of Alton, Texas; and Jose Ricardo Lopez-Ramos, 31, a legal permanent resident, were all charged with substantive counts of drug trafficking and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances involving more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

Chief United States District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa sentenced the last defendant, Garcia-Pena, to 144 months in federal prison for his conviction of possessing with intent to distribute marijuana to be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release.

Escobedo-Anguiano and Alvarez pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and were sentenced on Monday, April 9, 2012,  to 180 months and 84 months imprisonment, respectively.

Ramirez-Ovalle, Lopez-Ramos and Ramirez-Garcia each entered a plea of guilty to a substantive count of drug trafficking. They received respective sentences 87, 39 and 24 months in prison last Monday. 

CORPUS CHRISTI–Two Weslaco men were indicted by a Corpus Christi Federal Grand Jury for the smuggling of cocaine and both were arrested in South Texas this week.

The indictment was unsealed on March 28 and the men were arrested shortly after that.
Federal prosecutors reported Jose Santos Casas-Gonzalez, Sr., 41, was taken into custody on April 5th in Falfurrias, while Rogelio Mata-Ramirez, 40, was arrested in San Antonio two days earlier.
Mata-Ramirez appeared in San Antonio before U.S. Magistrate Judge Pam Mathy and was ordered detained without bond. Casas-Gonzalez appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Janice Ellington in Corpus Christi and was also ordered detained without bond.
 
Casas-Gonzalez and Mata-Ramirez are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five-kilograms of cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute 29 kilograms of cocaine.
They are currently set for trial May 15, 2012, before Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head. If convicted, they face a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment on each count.
 
Also included in the indictment is a notice of the government’s intent to criminally forfeit property of a business called Rio Shallow Boats Inc., located at 8129 North F.M. 88, in Weslaco, a business owned by Casas-Gonzalez.
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