HOUSTON – A federal jury sitting in Houston has convicted
a 34-year-old man for conspiracy and methamphetamine smuggling, announced 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, who illegally resided in Houston, for
the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
The jury heard
testimony from co-defendant Mexican national Genaro Pavon Pena that Benito operated stash houses in Houston between July
2016 and late 2017. The stash houses were used to produce methamphetamine for
distribution in Houston, and Benito and Pena
had discussed the movement of methamphetamine and cash proceeds. The jury also
heard from law enforcement officers regarding search warrants and seizures of
more than 130 kilograms of methamphetamine between November 2016 and February
Benito removed gasoline tanks from vehicles
coming from Mexico to extract liquid methamphetamine which was later processed
into crystalized methamphetamine for distribution. Authorities seized 27
kilograms of methamphetamine April 4, 2017, which was directly tied to a stash
house belonging to Pena. Testimony demonstrated that Benito delivered at least
25 kilos of methamphetamine he produced at his residence to the Pena residence
before the seizure. Pena testified that the organization moved at least 500
kilograms of methamphetamine during the course of the conspiracy.
defense argued that authorities did not seize drugs directly from Benito and
that Pena falsely testified in order to receive a lesser sentence for his
previous conviction. The jury was not convinced and convicted Benito as
U.S. District Judge David Hittner presided
over trial and set sentencing for Dec. 6, 2019. He has been and will remain in
custody pending that hearing.
32, and Edwin Sanchez-Villa, 27, of Houston, previously pleaded guilty for
their roles in the conspiracy and are set for sentencing Nov. 5 and 20, 2019,
respectively. All three men face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in
The Drug Enforcement Administration
conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. U.S. Attorneys Edward Gallagher and
Abe Martinez are prosecuting the case.