POSTED: Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 10:04pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 10:19pm
MCALLEN, TX — A total of 19 people have been handed federal prison sentences for their roles in a drug trafficking conspiracy originating out of Starr County involving more than 10,000 kilograms of marijuana in 2012 and 2013.
"This HSI Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, worked in collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and our other law enforcement partners, dealt a major blow to the Delfino Bazan Drug Trafficking Organization as 19 of its members were sentenced,” said Ayala. “HSI, in collaboration with the DEA, seized approximately 12,247 kilograms of marijuana, 19 weapons, along with U.S. currency and other personal property purchased with illicit proceeds.”
U.S. District Judge Crane sentenced South Texas attorney Jose Luis Palacios Jr., 38, of Mission, and his father, Jose Luis Palacios Sr., 64, a legal permanent resident of Edinburg and owner of J&J Auto Sales in McAllen to 144 and 60 months in federal prison, respectively. Elee Camargo, 37, of McAllen, an oil field service’s entrepreneur, received a sentence of 84 months. They were all convicted for their roles in the attempt to coordinate the transportation of 428 kilograms of marijuana to the primary target of the investigation, Delfino Bazan.
Bazan, 44, of Houston, would receive shipments of marijuana from various co-conspirators in Houston to sell to others. Today, he was sentenced to a total of 324 months in prison. It is estimated that over the course of the conspiracy, Bazan was receiving at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana each month to distribute to others in the spring of 2012. Bazan was also sentenced to 324 months for cocaine trafficking in a case originating out of the Eastern District of Texas. The sentences will be served concurrently. As part of the plea agreement in that case, he has agreed to a monetary judgment of more than $10 million.
Bazan’s common law wife Alejandrina Martinez, 43, of Houston, received a sentence of 30 months for her role in laundering drug proceeds through bank accounts on behalf of Bazan.
Also sentenced today were Sostenes Ferreira-Garcia, 50, Enrique Montalvo, 40, and Jose Felipe Ramon, 33, all of Rio Grande City; and Samuel Espino-Morales, 59, Jorge Luis Martinez-Moreno, 28, and Homero Daniel Gutierrez-Aguilar, 24, all of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. All were each sentenced for their respective roles in smuggling marijuana from Mexico into the United States near La Casita for further distribution within the United States. They assisted in the smuggling of at least 10,000 kilograms of marijuana during the spring of 2013, all of which was intercepted by law enforcement during the course of the investigation. Ferreira-Garcia, who coordinated the smuggling and further distribution was sentenced to 240 months. Enrique Montalvo scouted for the group and received a sentence of 108 months. Load driver Espino-Morales was sentenced to 51 months, while Martinez-Moreno and Gutierrez-Aguilar, who assisted with the loading and unloading of the marijuana were sentenced, respectively, to 140 and 112 months in prison. Ramon allowed his residence to be used as a stash location and received a sentence of 135 months in prison.
Eight others - Ivan Del Jesus Campos-Landa, 31, David Muniz, 54, Jose Luis Lozano, 41, Mario Alberto Martinez, 44, and David Ulloa Correa, 48, all of Rio Grande City; Thomas Garcia, 53, of Garciasville; Edmundo Canales, 23, of Edinburg; and Rosendo Benitez, 45, of McAllen - were all convicted of attempting to transport varying amounts of marijuana at varying times throughout the conspiracy. Campos-Landa was sentenced to 57 months, while Muniz, Lozano, Martinez, Correa, Garcia and Canales were ordered to serve 60, 41, 72, 24, 120 and 46 months in prison, respectively. Benitez will serve a 87-month-term of imprisonment.
The OCDETF investigation dubbed “Operation Casanova” was conducted by HSI, DEA Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Starr County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Juan F. Alanis is prosecuting the case.