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The Police News
Nearly a dozen drug traffickers off the streets and headed to prison
Laredo, Texas

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.

Today, Judge 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.