Mexican illegal behind bars for running meth trafficking ring
HOUSTON – A 34-year-old Mexican foreign national who illegally resided in Houston has been ordered to prison for conspiracy and meth smuggling, announced DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. The jury deliberated for less than three hours following a three-day trial before convicting Rogelio Rivera Benito, aka Mecanico, on Sept. 10.
Today, U.S. District Judge David Hittner handed Benito a 292-month sentence. Also sentenced today was Mexican national Genaro Pavon Pena, 32, who previously pleaded guilty for his role as a fellow-cook and stash house operator in the conspiracy and testified at Benito’s trial. He was sentenced to 120 months imprisonment. Both are expected to face removal proceedings following their sentences.
Another defendant, Edwin Sanchez-Villa, 27, of Houston, also previously pleaded guilty for his role as a transporter in the conspiracy and will be sentenced Dec. 13.
During trial, the jury heard testimony that Benito operated stash houses in Houston between July 2016 and late 2017. They used the stash houses to produce and distribute meth for distribution in Houston.
Benito removed gasoline tanks from vehicles coming from Mexico containing liquid meth, later processed into crystalized meth for distribution. Authorities seized 27 kilograms of meth on April 4, 2017, directly tied to a stash house belonging to Pena. Testimony demonstrated Benito delivered at least 25 kilograms of meth he produced at his residence to the Pena residence before the seizure.
Authorities made five seizures in the course of the investigation which involved 135 kilograms of meth. Pena testified that the organization moved at least 500 kilograms of meth during the course of the conspiracy.
Benito and Pena have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward Gallagher and Abe Martinez are prosecuting the case.
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