6 Traffickers Convicted for Smuggling Meth for Michoacan Cartel
LAREDO, Texas – Five U.S. citizens and one Mexican national have been convicted of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute a total of approximately 75 kilograms of meth associated with an independent drug cartel located in Michoacan, Mexico, announced Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Gerardo Martinez, 63, Laredo, pleaded guilty to leading a conspiracy to bring meth into the United States from Mexico and on to San Antonio, Dallas and beyond. Maria Valdez, 30, Rodrigo Sandoval, 31, and Karina Garcia, 26, all also of Laredo, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy as did Mexican national Jose Alfredo Cruz-Salas, 37, and Ernesto Diaz-Velazquez, 40, Dallas.
The investigation revealed a complex conspiracy which began Feb. 1, 2017, and continued through Sept. 29, 2018. Martinez assisted drug traffickers in Mexico by finding and recruiting drivers willing to transport large quantities of high-purity meth through Laredo and further into the United States.
As part of his plea today, Martinez admitted to coordinating five drug trafficking events involving the illegal distribution of meth through Laredo.
Sandoval, Cruz-Salas, Valdez, Diaz-Velazquez and Garcia each previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to deliver and transport meth through Laredo while working for Martinez. Martinez maintained a front as an independent taxi driver while working on behalf of the Michoacan cartel.
U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo will impose sentencing at a later date. At that time, each faces up to life in prison and a possible $10 million maximum fine.
All six 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 Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Operation Codigo Siete with the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Laredo Police Department and Webb County Sheriff’s Office. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, mutlti-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Rodriguez is prosecuting the case.