CORPUS CHRISTI–Two Rio Grande Valley men plead guilty Wednesday to drug trafficking in a Corpus Christi Federal Courtroom and admitted they used a business as a front to move drugs to various locations.
Jose Santos Casas-Gonzalez Sr., 51, of Weslaco entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 29 kilograms of cocaine as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering before Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head.
Rogelio Mata-Ramirez, 50, of Weslaco pleaded guilty last month to the cocaine conspiracy.
At the their plea hearings, Casas and Mata admitted to hiring a driver in December 2010 to transport approximately 30 kilograms of cocaine through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.
They also admitted to utilizing Casas’ business, Rio Shallow Boats, Inc., to help in the facilitation of their drug-trafficking activities.
Casas-Gonzalez further acknowledged he used the profits from his drug business to make his boat company appear legitimate.
Casas admitted to using drug money to buy vehicles, pay for personal expenses and reinvesting into his business, Rio Shallow Boats, Inc.
Casas and Mata were part of a cocaine conspiracy operating between the Rio Grande Valley to areas north, circumventing the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints by utilizing ranches in South Texas.
Casas and Mata were smuggling large amounts of narcotics, primarily cocaine, through and around the Border Patrol checkpoints to various destinations throughout the United States.
They trafficked narcotics using tractor-trailers, boats in the Intra Coastal Waterway and in various other ranch vehicles around the Border Patrol checkpoint near Sarita, Texas.
Mata is a former employee of the King Ranch and is one of the coordinators for the drug smuggling operations, working for Casas.
Casas is supplied with cocaine from the Los Zetas and utilizes Rio Shallow Boats Inc. to fabricate compartments for the smuggling of this contraband in boats, tractor trailers and trucks.
They will both remain in custody pending their sentencing hearing, which has been set for Aug. 30. They face between 10 years to life in prison when they get sentenced.
Casas-Gonzalez has also agreed to forfeit the real property located at 8129 North F.M. 88, in Weslaco – the location of Rio Shallow Boats Inc.