MCALLEN, TEXAS (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — A federal judge in McAllen has sentenced the last of five men who previously pleaded guilty to smuggling approximately 2,672 pounds of marijuana, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
Arnoldo Gonzalez-Chavez, 37, Juan Ornelas-Ahumeda, 31, and Jonathan Ricardo Alvarez-Martinez, 20, all of Mission; and Antonio Mendoza-Aguirre, 33, and Rafael Murguia-Mendoza, 42, both of McAllen, all previously pleaded guilty.
Today, Senior U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Gonzalez-Chavez to a term of 30 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Previously, Judge Crane handed Mendoza-Aguirre and Ornelas-Ahumeda to respective terms of 151 and 63 months, while Murguia-Mendoza and Alvarez-Martinez were each ordered to serve 70 months in federal prison.
The defendants were originally charged in an indictment returned on Jan. 24, 2012, and ultimately pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it. Each of the five men admitted to participating in a stash house operation designed to receive and re-package shipments of marijuana in preparation for northbound transportation. Mendoza-Aguirre supervised the operation with the assistance of Murguia-Mendoza, recruited Ornelas-Ahumeda and Gonzalez-Chavez to wrap the marijuana in plastic and grease and hired Alvarez-Martinez to transport the marijuana.
On Jan. 11, 2012, agents arrested four of the defendants after they departed a stash house in Mission, where a subsequent search revealed 114 bundles containing 1,212 kilograms of marijuana. Further investigation led agents to another residence in McAllen where they arrested Alvarez-Martinez and discovered $49,000 in United States currency.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and assisted by the McAllen and Mission Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Grady J. Leupold.