HOUSTON – Three Houston men have been sentenced for their
participation in a rip crew with the leader receiving a significant
30-year-term, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan
Mike Piedra, 36, pleaded guilty Aug. 9, 2018,
while Efrain Delgado, 33, and Jesse Perez, 45, admitted their guilt March 5,
2018. The men acknowledged their roles in a conspiracy with intent to
distribute cocaine and conspiracy to use, carry or possess a firearm during and
in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Today, Chief U.S. District Chief Judge Lee H.
Rosenthal sentenced Delgado and Perez to serve 150 and 160
months, respectively. On Nov. 6, Piedra was ordered to serve 360 months for his
role as the leader of the group.
At Piedra’s sentencing, the court heard
evidence and testimony regarding Piedra’s extensive efforts to obstruct justice
in this case. He had an elaborate scheme to persuade his fellow crew members to
take the fall for him. If that failed, he wanted them to take their cases to
trial so he could cooperate, testify against them and potentially earn a
reduced sentence. His efforts failed.
In imposing the sentence, Chief Rosenthal
described Piedra’s crime as a “sinister plot” and noted he had earned every
month of his 30-year sentence.
A drug rip crew targets stash houses cartel
members use to store drugs for further distribution in the United States.
Authorities investigated Piedra’s rip crew,
whose members were already gang members with extensive experience in violent
robberies. The undercover operation involved the supposed robbery of a stash
house where 20 kilograms of cocaine was allegedly being stored. The crew
members outlined in detail the violence they would use to carry out the robbery
and boasted about their prior and violent experience committing similar
Piedra was the mastermind behind the robbery
crew. He would not be present at the actual robbery, but would organize it from
behind the scenes. He also provided the weapons and manpower to commit the
crime. Delgado and Perez committed the robbery itself and engaged in the
violence necessary to rob the stash house and steal the drugs.
There was no actual stash house. On July 23,
2015, a combined law enforcement operation resulted in the arrests of all three
men without risk to the community.
They have been and will remain in custody
pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives and Houston Police Department conducted the joint investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharad S. Khandelwal prosecuted the case.