Houston gang members sentenced for trafficking drugs in the Heights
HOUSTON - A federal judge has sentenced a 25-year-old Houston resident to 19 years in prison following his convictions for methamphetamine distribution and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a narcotics conspiracy, announced DEA Houston Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Elias Larry Luna pleaded guilty July 9. Also sentenced today were co-conspirators Alfonso Rios and Jesus Jimenez, both 30 and also of Houston. They had previously admitted to two counts of narcotics distribution acting in conspiracy with Luna.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas ordered Luna to serve a total of 228 months in federal prison which includes 168 months for the narcotics convictions and a consecutive 60 months for the related firearms charge. The 19-year sentence will be immediately followed by five years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence regarding the firearms Luna sold in conjunction with the narcotics distribution. These included three semi-automatic rifles sold to an undercover agent during the investigation leading to Luna’s arrest. The court also heard about Luna’s involvement in the narcotics trafficking. In imposing the sentence, Judge Atlas noted the event leading to Luna’s arrest was the most “significant and negative transactions” she had seen.
Rios and Jimenez both received 15-year sentences.
“Removing armed drug traffickers from the streets will have an immediate impact on the greater Houston community,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski. “We will continue our work to dismantle drug trafficking organizations through our partnerships with local, state and federal authorities.”
"DPS worked collaboratively with our federal, state and local agency partners to disrupt a violent drug trafficking organization," said Taylor. "DPS Criminal Investigations Division special agents, analysts and several other members of the department worked many hours throughout this investigation, and their work has helped make Texas safer."
At the time of his plea, Luna admitted he took part in a drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute approximately 13 kilograms of meth in the Heights neighborhood of Houston in September 2018. Luna also admitted he was armed with a firearm during the conspiracy.
In August 2018, authorities began investigating Luna for trafficking narcotics in the Houston area. The investigation culminated in a September 2018 sting operation resulting in his arrest and that of his co-conspirators while attempting to sell approximately 13 kilograms of meth for $95,250. During the operation, Luna attempted to engage in the narcotics sale, while Rios and Jimenez provided counter-surveillance, attempting to conceal the drug trafficking. Despite the presence of firearms, law enforcement ultimately apprehended all three men without violence.
Luna and Rios have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
ATF and DPS led the investigation as part of a multi-agency effort through the Texas Anti-Gang Center with the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Houston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Corley is prosecuting the case.