POSTED: Friday, April 18, 2014 - 9:00am
UPDATED: Friday, April 18, 2014 - 9:09am
MCALLEN, TX — Silvestre Barrera-Villegas, a member of drug trafficking conspiracy originating out Starr County, has been ordered to federal prison for nearly 10 years, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Barrera-Villegas, 52, of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, pleaded guilty Jan. 29, 2014, to his role in smuggling more than 8,000 kilograms of marijuana in 2013.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Barrera-Villegas to a total term of 130 months in federal prison. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.
Barrera-Villegas admitted to assisting Sostenes Ferreira-Garcia, 50, of Rio Grande City; and Jorge Luis Martinez-Moreno, 28, and Homero Daniel Gutierrez-Aguilar, 24, both of Camargo, in smuggling marijuana from Mexico near La Casita for further distribution within the U.S.
Ferreira-Garcia, who coordinated the smuggling and further distribution was previously sentenced to 240 months in federal prison, 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.
At the sentencing of Barrera-Villegas today, the court took into consideration information that Barrrera-Villegas, along with Ruben Patino-Garcia, took over Ferreira-Garcia’s duties after the organization in Mexico became dissatisfied with the work of Ferreira-Garcia.
Patino-Garcia, aka Orejon, 19, and Rosbel Morin-Barrera, aka Zacate, 54, both of Mexico, are fugitives in the case. The public can report tips to Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) by calling (866)-DHS-2-ICE (866-347-2423). On the receiving end, a team of special agents, intelligence research specialists and law enforcement specialists man the phones. They are all highly trained in a number of laws related to worksite enforcement, document and benefit fraud, intellectual property rights, money laundering, drug smuggling, child pornography and human trafficking. Callers can expect minimal wait times to speak to a tip line specialist. Average phone calls take less than five minutes to complete. The ICE-HSI Tip Line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This prosecution was a part of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed “Operation Casanova,” conducted by HSI, Drug Enforcement Administration, 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.