Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Louisiana Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty to Covering up Assault on an Inmate

Jason Giroir, 35, a former correctional officer with the Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP) in Angola, La., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge James J. Brady for the Middle District of Louisiana for his role in covering up an incident in which correctional officers used excessive force against an inmate.   Giroir admitted filing a false report and subsequently providing false information to the FBI about the incident.   Investigation of the incident is ongoing.

According to the factual basis filed in connection with his guilty plea, on or about Jan. 24, 2010, Giroir, then a major at LSP, heard that an inmate had escaped from his assigned location.   Shortly thereafter, the inmate surrendered to prison officials.   Giroir, one of the first officers to arrive at the surrender site, handcuffed the inmate and placed him on the back of his truck.   Kevin L. Groom Sr., and two other LSP officers accompanied the handcuffed inmate in the rear of Giroir’s truck.   During the transport, Giroir saw one of the officers repeatedly swing his asp baton down towards the inmate, and realized that the inmate was being beaten.  
Some time after this incident, one of the officers who was in the back of the truck approached Giroir to talk about the incident.   That officer admitted to Giroir that he had struck the inmate, but denied having used an asp baton.
Giroir also admitted that during the prison’s investigation of this incident, he wrote and submitted a false report denying that officers assaulted the inmate, and that he provided that same false information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Giroir pleaded guilty to falsification of records in a federal investigation and to making a false statement to the FBI.    As a result of his guilty plea, Giroir faces a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years.  

“Instead of lawfully carrying out his critical public safety responsibilities, Mr. Giroir covered up the violent actions of other officers,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Roy Austin. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute officers who cross the line and engage in criminal misconduct.”

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. stated, “our public protection mission in law enforcement necessitates the protection of inmates from physical abuse by those who are charged with guarding them.  We will prosecute vigorously those law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect the public and undermine this mission by fabricating and covering up crimes they witness.”

" Mr. Giroir's guilty plea clearly confirms that the FBI pursues all aspects of excessive force incidents, including any attempted obstructions of the investigation of the underlying unlawful use of physical force by others," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Anderson.
In a related case before Judge Brady, former LSP Officer Kevin Groom entered a guilty plea.     

The investigation in this matter was conducted by Special Agent Taneka Harris of the FBI and prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney AeJean (Angie) Cha and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana Robert W. Piedrahita.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Former Guatemalan President Extradited to the U.S. to Face Money Laundering Charges

 DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart and other federal officials today announced the extradition of ALFONSO PORTILLO, the former President of Guatemala, who is charged with conspiring to launder millions of dollars he embezzled from the Government of Guatemala through bank accounts located in the United States. Portillo arrived in the Southern District of New York last Friday and will be presented today before U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson. 

Joining Administrator Leonhart in making the announcement were Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Toni Weirauch, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”).

DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said: “Former President Portillo has been extradited to the United States for violations of money laundering. In his role as President, Mr. Portillo used our banking system to launder illegal proceeds, which is a violation of law that DEA will always aggressively investigate. Thanks to the work of many in law enforcement and DEA’s strong and cooperative relationships with the Guatemalan government, Mr. Portillo will now face justice in a U.S. courtroom.”

United States Attorney Preet Bharara said: “After three years of fighting his extradition, Alfonso Portillo has finally arrived in the United States to answer for his alleged misappropriation of millions of dollars intended for the benefit of the people of Guatemala and which he laundered through United States banks. Our ability to hold him to account for his alleged criminality and corruption is the result of the unrelenting commitment and dedication of our prosecutors and our law enforcement partners in both the United States and Guatemala.”

IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Toni Weirauch said: “IRS-Criminal Investigation is dedicated to working with our law enforcement partners and sharing our financial investigative expertise to combat and disrupt criminal organizations and individuals that commit crimes against our society and the world economy, including international money laundering. To that end, we are a proud participant in the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force. These money laundering allegations are truly international in nature, as the American financial system was misused and harmed in the concealment of money embezzled from the government of Guatemala and ultimately, its people.”
According to the Indictment previously unsealed in Manhattan federal court:

PORTILLO served as the President of Guatemala from January 14, 2000, to January 14, 2004. In that capacity, he embezzled tens of millions of dollars in public funds, a substantial portion of which he laundered through American and European bank accounts.
PORTILLO misappropriated public money in at least three different ways:

First, in 2000 and 2002, PORTILLO embezzled approximately $2.5 million dollars provided by the Government of Taiwan's Embassy in Guatemala. In 2000, the Taiwanese Embassy issued three checks totaling $1.5 million, drawn upon a New York bank account created for the purpose of funding a Guatemalan program designed to purchase books for school libraries, Bibliotecas Para La Paz ("Libraries for Peace"). PORTILLO endorsed these checks and caused them to be deposited in a bank account in Miami, Florida. None of the money from the Government of Taiwan was applied towards the Libraries for Peace program; almost $1 million of the donation was ultimately diverted, through a series of transactions and transfers intended to conceal the source and origin of the funds, to bank accounts in the name of PORTILLO's former wife and daughter at Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria ("BBVA") in Paris, France. The money transferred into the BBVA Accounts was further laundered through financial institutions in Luxembourg and Switzerland, among other places.

Second, in 2001, PORTILLO embezzled approximately 30 million Quetzales (equivalent at that time to approximately $3.9 million) from the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense. PORTILLO arranged for this money to be delivered to one of Guatemala's national banks, Credito Hipocaterio Nacional ("CHN"), to which PORTILLO had previously appointed a co-conspirator ("CC-1") as the bank’s president. With the assistance of CC-1, PORTILLO directed the disbursement of the military funds to, among other things, finance a private land deal, disguise a loan to an associate, and issue checks to a company controlled by another co-conspirator. That co-conspirator then transferred a portion of that money to the BBVA accounts controlled by PORTILLO's former wife and daughter through a Miami bank account.

Finally, from approximately 2000 through 2003, PORTILLO misappropriated funds from the publicly financed reserves of CHN. PORTILLO and his co-conspirators created overdrafts in CHN accounts belonging to companies established by CC-1 and other co-conspirators. Through the use of these overdrafts, PORTILLO and his co-conspirators withdrew and transferred money from CHN accounts in excess of the accounts' otherwise existing balances. PORTILLO used these overdraft withdrawals and transfers to purchase, among other things, various personal items –- including expensive watches and cars –- for himself and his associates. On other occasions, PORTILLO and his co-conspirators used the overdrafts on CHN accounts to transfer and launder funds into business and personal accounts, maintained in the United States and elsewhere, belonging to co-conspirators. Relying on the CHN overdrafts, PORTILLO also 3
transferred money to help prop up two failing banks that were principally owned by a close associate and political supporter of PORTILLO's, Banco Promotor and Banco Metropolitano.

If convicted of the money laundering conspiracy count with which he is charged, PORTILLO, 61, faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of the greater of $500,000, or twice the value of the monetary instruments or funds involved in the money laundering transactions.

Mr. Bharara specifically thanked the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force – which is comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the New York State Police, IRS-CI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Marshals Service – the Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs for their work in this investigation. Mr. Bharara also recognized and thanked the United Nations Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala ("CICIG"), the Guatemalan Special Prosecutor's Office for the CICIG, and the Ministerio Público in Guatemala for their assistance in this investigation.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Houston Man Charged with Threatening to Bomb Synagogues

A federal complaint has been unsealed charging Dante Phearse, 32, of Houston, with calling in bomb threats to two synagogues located in Houston, announced Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Roy L. Austin Jr. and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Kenneth Magidson.

The sealed complaint was filed Thursday, May 16, 2013, and unsealed today.  Phearse is expected to make an initial appearance in Houston tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson.  At that time, the government expects to request he be detained pending further criminal proceedings.

Phearse is charged with one count of using an instrument of interstate commerce to communicate a threat to destroy a building by means of an explosive device.  The complaint and accompanying affidavit allege that on the evening of April 30, 2013, Phearse telephoned two different synagogues in Houston - Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Or Ami - and left voice mails threatening to bomb the Jewish houses of worship on May 2, 2013.

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

If convicted, Phearse faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

The case is being investigated by the Houston Police Department and the FBI.  Trial Attorneys Saeed Mody and Nicholas Murphy of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of Texas Ruben R. Perez and Joe Magliolo are prosecuting.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Alabama Woman Pleads Guilty for Involvement in a Large Scale Stolen Identity Refund Fraud

Tracey Montgomery, of Montgomery County, Ala., pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama to her role in a large scale stolen identity refund fraud, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.
On April 17, 2013, a federal grand jury in Montgomery, Ala., indicted Montgomery on conspiracy and theft of government money charges. According to court documents, Montgomery opened two bank accounts which were used to receive deposits of fraudulent tax refunds. Between August 2009 and February 2011, at least six false federal income tax refunds totaling approximately $49,221 were directed to Montgomery’s bank accounts. Montgomery was able to withdraw the false tax refund money before the IRS caught her. The overall scheme Montgomery participated in is alleged to have involved over $500,000 in false refunds.  As a result of her plea, Montgomery faces a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison.

This case was investigated by special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation. Trial Attorneys Charles M. Edgar Jr., Michael Boteler, and Greg Bailey of the Justice Department's Tax Division are prosecuting the case with the assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama and, in particular, Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Washington, D.C. Fugitive Snared by U.S. Marshals

Savannah, GA - A Washington, D.C. man wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service was arrested on May 20, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia by the U.S. Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force (SERFTF) and Deputy U.S. Marshals from the Southern District of Georgia.

James Edward Brown, Jr. was wanted for Failure to Appear on a Federal Probation Violation issued by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. Brown was charged in 1999 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. for the offense of Murder II While Armed. Brown served 9 years on this sentence before being released. He was required to serve three years of probation after his release. After his release from prison, Brown absconded from his probation, and a warrant for his arrest was issued on January 4, 2013.

As a result of this warrant, the U.S. Marshals Service Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force (CARFTF) initiated a fugitive investigation to locate and arrest Brown. From the investigation, Brown’s trail led to McDuffie County, Georgia. Deputy U.S. Marshals in Washington, D.C. contacted the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force in Savannah, Georgia for assistance. On May 20, 2013, SERFTF personnel traveled to Thomson, Georgia to locate Brown.

SERFTF personnel and Deputy U.S. Marshals from the Southern District of Georgia determined that Brown had moved to Augusta, Georgia. Surveillance was established on a residence in Augusta, Georgia. As a result, Brown was located at the residence and taken into custody without incident. Brown will face a removal hearing in federal court in Augusta, Georgia. Ultimately, he will be extradited back to Washington, D.C. to answer the charge issued against him. Brown has previous arrests for a weapon offense, homicide, and robberies.

Established in 1789, the United States Marshals Service is the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency. The U.S. Marshals Service is the federal government’s primary agency for fugitive investigations. In fiscal year 2012, the Marshals apprehended 36,302 federal fugitives, clearing approximately 39,423 felony warrants. Marshals-led fugitive task forces arrested 86,704 state and local fugitives in FY 2012, clearing approximately 114,311 state and local felony warrants.

The U.S. Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force (SERFTF) was created by the Presidential Threat Protection Act of 2000. Congress recognized the U.S. Marshals expertise in tracking and apprehending dangerous fugitives and ordered the creation of regional fugitive task forces (RFTFs) in core cities throughout the country. Via this mandate, SERFTF was created in 2003 and has offices in Atlanta, Macon, and Savannah to assist state, county, and local agencies as a central investigative base to identify, locate and apprehend dangerous offenders.

Locally, the Savannah Division of SERFTF is composed of U.S. Marshals and state and local law enforcement officers from the Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Parole, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, the Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department, the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office, and the McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office.

Members of International Sex Trafficking Ring Indicted

Victims Brought to Atlanta and Southeast from Mexico and Guatemala
Arturo Rojas-Coyotl, Odilon Martinez-Rojas, and Severiano Martinez-Rojas, all of Tenancingo in the state of Tlaxcala, Mexico have been indicted on charges of sex trafficking and alien harboring, announced the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. A fourth man, Daniel Garcia-Tepal, also of Tlaxcala, Mexico, is charged with encouraging and inducing aliens to enter and reside in the United States unlawfully.

 According to U.S. Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Rojas-Coyotl and his uncles Odilon Martinez-Rojas and Severiano Martinez-Rojas used force, fraud and coercion to compel three women to engage in prostitution in Atlanta and Norcross, Ga. at various times between 2006 and 2008. Daniel Garcia-Tepal and Arturo Rojas-Coyotl are also charged with encouraging and inducing a fourth woman to unlawfully enter and remain in the United States between 2010 and 2013.

 Special Agents of the FBI and ICE Homeland Security Investigations arrested Arturuo Rojas-Coyotl, Odilon Martinez-Rojas, and Daniel Garcia-Tepal in a highly coordinated law enforcement sweep today. Severiano Martinez-Rojas remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Mexico.  The FBI will coordinate with its legal attaché in Mexico City to affect his arrest and subsequent extradition back to the U.S.  Four search warrants were also executed today in Atlanta and Norcross, Ga. in conjunction with the arrests.

 Rojas-Coyotl, 26, Martinez-Rojas, 41, Martinez-Rojas, 48, and Garcia-Tepal, 28, are scheduled for arraignment today.  Each sex trafficking charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison while each alien harboring charge has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, with all counts carrying a fine of up to $250,000 each.  In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

 This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.  Interagency cooperation in international sex trafficking operations is imperative and vital to the success of the prosecution.

 Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Coppedge and Trial Attorney Benjamin Hawk of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit are prosecuting the case.

 Anyone with information related to sex trafficking should call the Atlanta FBI hotline at 404-679-9000 or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.

 Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations.  A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Two Foreign Nationals Sentenced in Houston to Prison for Human Smuggling

Indian national Kaushik Jayantibhai Thakkar and Brazilian national Fabiano Augusto Amorim were each sentenced today to serve 36 months in prison for their roles in smuggling undocumented migrants to the United States for private financial gain, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson for the Southern District of Texas and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton.

Thakkar, 33, and Amorim, 28, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. in the Southern District of Texas.  In addition to their prison terms, Thakkar and Amorim were sentenced to serve two years of supervised release.

On Dec. 2, 2012, and Jan. 4, 2013, respectively, Thakkar and Amorim each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to bring undocumented migrants into the United States for profit and to one count of unlawfully bringing two undocumented migrants into the United States for profit.

According to court documents, Thakkar and Amorim worked together and with other co-conspirators to smuggle individuals from India into the United States.  In support of the conspiracy, Thakkar and others recruited individuals in India who were willing to pay up to $60,000 to be smuggled into the United States.  For their smuggling operations, Thakkar and Amorim and their associates used a network of co-conspirators in South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the United States, including the state of Texas.  Using this network, Thakkar, Amorim and their co-conspirators transported groups of undocumented migrants from locations within India through South America, Central America and the Caribbean and then into the United States by various means, including by air travel, automobiles, water craft and foot.  Many of these smuggling events involved illegal entry into the United States via the border between the United States and Mexico near McAllen and Laredo, Texas.

A third co-conspirator, Maria Adela De Luna, pleaded guilty on Nov. 9, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented migrants in the United States.  On Feb. 15, 2013, De Luna was sentenced to serve 19 months in prison and three years of supervised release for her role in the conspiracy.

The investigation was conducted by agents with ICE-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in McAllen and Houston, with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Alien Smuggling Interdiction Unit.  This case is being prosecuted jointly by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leo J. Leo III and Casey MacDonald of the Southern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Stephen Curran of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.

The investigation was conducted under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and HSI.  The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present particular national security or public safety risks, or present grave humanitarian concerns.  ECT has dedicated investigative, intelligence and prosecutorial resources.  ECT coordinates and receives assistance from other U.S. government agencies and foreign law enforcement authorities.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pennslyvania Inmate Sentenced to Life in Prison for Violent Murder of Fellow Inmate

A federal inmate was sentenced today to life in prison for the violent murder of a fellow inmate in Pennsylvania’s Allenwood Correctional Complex, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Peter J. Smith.

Ritz D. Williams Jr., 32, of Gila River Indian Reservation, Sacaton, Ariz., pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder and possession of a weapon on April 15, 2013.  U.S. District Court Judge Yvette Kane sentenced Williams to life without the possibility of parole on May 15, 2013, for his role in the murder of fellow inmate Alvin Allery.

Williams and his co-conspirator Shawn Cooya were indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2008 and a superseding indictment was returned in July 2009.

According to court documents, Williams and Cooya aided each other in the premeditated murder of Allery.  On Sept. 28, 2005, Williams and Cooya stabbed Allery 10 times with a homemade knife and repeatedly kicked him in the head and torso, which resulted in Allery’s death.

On Jan. 8, 2013, Cooya pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder and was sentenced to serve life in prison on March 18, 2013.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Prisons and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wayne P. Samuelson and Michelle Olshefski of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Trial Attorneys Julie B. Mosley and Mike Warbel of the Criminal Division’s Capital Case Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney C.J. Williams of the Northern District of Iowa and formerly with the Capital Case Unit.

U.S. Marshals Arrest Barricaded Subject

Durham, NC – This afternoon at approximately 12:30 pm, Xavier Alanson Bell, a 30 year old, Black Male, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force (JFTF) and Durham Police Department. Bell was wanted by the Butner Department of Public Safety for Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon and Assault with a Deadly Weapon Intent to Kill Inflicting Serious Injury. These charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on April 22, 2013 in an internet sweepstakes business.

During early morning surveillance, Bell walked out onto the front porch of the residence and was positively identified by members of the JFTF. Approximately 10:00 am, JFTF approached the residence and Bell barricaded himself into the upstairs attic. Bell kept law enforcement at bay for 2.5 hours, before surrendering to the JFTF. Bell was taken into custody at the residence of 720 Liberty Street.

The U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force for the Middle District of North Carolina is comprised of investigators from the U.S. Marshals Service, Chapel Hill Police Department, Durham Police Department, Greensboro Police Department, High Point Police Department, Winston Salem Police Department, Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Probation and Parole Division and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Former Gulf Cartel Leader Gets 35 Years in Prison for Drug Trafficking

WASHINGTON – The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced that Aurelio Cano Flores, a Mexican national and high ranking member of the Gulf Cartel, was sentenced today to serve 35 years in prison for conspiring to import multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana into the United States.

Cano Flores, 40, aka “Yankee” and “Yeyo,” was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein in the District of Columbia.  In addition to his prison term, Cano Flores was ordered to forfeit $15 billion in drug proceeds as part of a money judgment.  At a post-trial hearing, the United States proved that from 2000 to 2010, the Gulf Cartel distributed in excess of 1.4 million kilograms of cocaine and 8,000 metric tons of marijuana.  The money judgment represents the gross receipts of the Gulf Cartel’s drug sales into the United States from its principal distribution centers located along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“DEA and its partners use every law enforcement tool possible to bring to justice drug cartel leaders and facilitators who inflict damage on both sides of the border,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.  “Aurelio Cano-Flores used his position as a Mexican police officer to help one of the most violent and brutal drug trafficking organizations in the world bring vast amounts of drugs into the United States.  Like many other cartel leaders, he posed a threat to the citizens of both the United States and Mexico.  We are confident and pleased that justice was served today by the pronouncement of his lengthy U.S. prison sentence."

“For over a decade, Aurelio Cano Flores worked with some of the most dangerous criminals in the world to import massive quantities of cocaine and marijuana into the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman.  “As a leader of the Gulf Cartel, one of the most notorious criminal enterprises in Mexico or the United States, he endangered the lives of innocent people on both sides of the border.  As a result of today’s sentencing, he will spend 35 years in federal prison as punishment for his crimes.”

Following a trial that lasted over two weeks, Cano Flores was convicted by a federal jury on Feb. 26, 2013, of one count of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, knowing and intending the substances would be unlawfully imported into the United States. 

Cano Flores was one of 19 defendants charged in a superseding indictment on Nov. 4, 2010, with drug trafficking offenses.  He was extradited to the United States from Mexico in August 2011 and was ordered detained in federal custody pending trial.  

Evidence presented at trial included dozens of lawfully intercepted telephone conversations between Cano Flores and other leaders of the Gulf Cartel, as well as testimony from previously convicted Cartel members.  According to the trial evidence, Cano Flores began working for the Gulf Cartel in approximately 2001, while he was serving as a police officer in Mexico.  During his time as a police officer, Cano Flores recruited others into the Gulf Cartel, collected drug money and escorted large shipments of cartel drugs to the U.S. border. 

Cano Flores ultimately rose through the ranks of the Gulf Cartel to become a major transporter of narcotics within Mexico to the U.S. border and became the Cartel’s top representative in the important border town of Los Guerra, Tamaulipas, Mexico.  As the “plaza boss” for Los Guerra, Cano Flores oversaw the mass distribution of cocaine and marijuana into the United States on a daily basis.  Testimony established that between 2000 and 2010, the Gulf Cartel grew from an organization of only 100 members controlling three border towns to an organization of 25,000 people controlling the drug trade over approximately half of Mexico.  As established during the trial, the means and methods of this conspiracy included corruption, murder, kidnapping and intimidation.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Darrin McCullough and Sean Torriente of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the provisional arrest and extradition of Cano Flores, and the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section provided assistance at sentencing.  The investigation in this case was led by the DEA Houston Field Division’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force and the DEA Bilateral Investigation Unit.  The case was part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force’s Operation “Day of Reckoning.”