LAREDO, Texas - A total of
12 area drug traffickers and money launderers have received their sentences following
their convictions related to a drug trafficking and money laundering
conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
All had previously pleaded
guilty for their varying roles in the scheme. U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia
Marmolejo imposed the sentences over the course of
the last three days.
Marmolejo ordered Elias Medina Ugarte, 27, Austin, to serve 120 months in
federal prison for coordinating the receipt and distribution of marijuana.
Earlier this week, Laredoans
Federico Hernandez, 36, Juan Ciprian Ruiz, 41, Peter Moreno, 26, Joe Alfredo
Fuentes, 35, and Janie Guadalupe Lucio, 41, were ordered to serve 70, 60, 60,
50 and 16 months, respectively, while Marisa Guadalupe Deleon, 40, received a
probated sentence with six months home confinement. Moreno had been on
supervised release for an unrelated alien smuggling charge and received an
additional 12 months for the revocation of that term, six of which are to be
served consecutively to his other sentence.
Mexican nationals Leodan Martinez, 35, and Pedro Lomeli, 34, were
ordered to serve a total of 36 and 120 months in federal prison and are
expected to face deportation proceedings following their sentences.
David Gonzalez, 37, received
an 18-month term of imprisonment after the court denied his purported
acceptance of responsibility, finding he had tested positive for cocaine use
while on bond.
Finally, Leticia Rocha
Pruneda, 60, and her daughter Ruby Pruneda, 34, both also from Laredo, received
three years of probation and 18 months in prison, respectively. The daughter
had recruited her mother to launder drug proceeds.
As part of their respective
sentences, most of the defendants received a money judgment or forfeiture in
varying amounts up to $40,000.
The co-conspirators engaged
in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana by means of tractor-trailers and other
vehicles and used various U.S. bank accounts to transfer drug proceeds from
distribution cities to Laredo. They were able to launder the drug proceeds by
investing in businesses, real estate and vehicles in a manner to conceal and
disguise the nature, ownership, control and source of their illicit funds.
The Prunedas spent more
than $10,000 in drug proceeds or conducted transactions in a manner to conceal
or disguise the source of drug proceeds. Gonzalez, Hernandez and Moreno acted
as couriers willing to transport narcotics from Laredo to Austin, Dallas and
elsewhere, while Lomeli and Ruiz were stash house operators in Laredo. The
others assisted in scouting or transporting narcotics and/or drug proceeds.
With exception of Fuentes,
Pruneda and Lucio, the defendants will remain in custody pending transfer to a
U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The organizers or leaders of
the organization are scheduled for sentencing later this year.
Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security
Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration conducted long-term
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Platinum Plus.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Graciela Lindberg is prosecuting the case.