POSTED: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 12:09pm
LAREDO, TX — Four people have been ordered to prison for their role in a drug conspiracy to ship more than 1000 pounds of marijuana from Laredo to Dallas, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Nancy Gutierrez, 28, and Jimmy Eusebio Trujillo, 50, both of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Pedro Menchaca, 39, of Rio Bravo, and Ricardo Cruz, 22, of Laredo, all entered guilty pleas at varying times in early 2013.
U.S. District Court Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo sentenced Gutierrez and Trujillo each to 60 months in federal prison, while Menchaca and Cruz will both serve 46-month-terms of imprisonment.
According to the evidence presented during the sentencing hearing today, these four defendants conspired between Aug. 13 – 20, 2009, to transport approximately 1,000 pounds of marijuana from Laredo to Dallas. Gutierrez recruited a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confidential source to secure transportation for the marijuana. Subsequently, undercover agents, posing as would be transporters, then coordinated with Gutierrez and Trujillo on the delivery of the marijuana at a Laredo warehouse for loading onto an 18-wheeler and ultimate transportation to Dallas. They agreed the marijuana would be delivered to the warehouse in two separate loads.
Agents set up surveillance at the warehouse and witnessed Menchaca and Cruz in a beige minivan arrive at the warehouse and park next to a tractor trailer. They delivered 202.03 kilograms of marijuana which was then loaded onto the trailer. Menchaca and Cruz then departed the warehouse and were expected to return with another load of marijuana.
Trujillo was seen conducting counter surveillance around the area in a Dodge Durango.
The minivan and Durango traveled to a residence on the south side of Laredo where they picked up a second load of marijuana. A Webb County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) deputy performed a traffic stop of Menchaca’s vehicle, at which time several duffle bags were discovered containing approximately 234 kilograms of marijuana.
Trujillo witnessed the seizure and proceeded back to the warehouse where he advised the undercover agents of the seizure and instructed them to proceed with taking the first load to Dallas. Ultimately, the tractor trailer and the marijuana load were seized, resulting in a total of 436.08 kilograms of marijuana seized in relation to these defendants.
The indictment against these four was one of seven relating to a long term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed “Operation Ultimate D.” The OCDTEF investigation charged several drug trafficking cells operating out of the Laredo area engaged in a conspiracy to distribute bulk quantities of marijuana, heroin, methamphetamines and cocaine from the Laredo area to distribution venues such as Dallas and Houston.