HOUSTON – A 34-year-old Mexican foreign national who
illegally resided in Houston has been ordered to prison for conspiracy and meth
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 Sept. 10.
Today, U.S. District Judge David Hittner handed Benito a
292-month sentence. Also sentenced today was Mexican national Genaro Pavon
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.
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 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
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
Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S.
Attorneys Edward Gallagher and Abe Martinez are prosecuting the case.