TEXARKANA, Texas (KSLA) — Three more people recently were sentenced in connection with a cartel that trafficked drugs in East Texas and elsewhere and funneled the proceeds back to its operations in Mexico.
That brings to six the number of people who have been sentenced. Three more are awaiting sentencing. And another person has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in federal court in Texarkana.
Federal prosecutors say their arrests came as a result of Operation Dirty Bird, a long-term investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering during which law officers have seized more than $500,000 in cash, almost 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of cocaine, more than a quarter kilogram (about nine ounces) of methamphetamine, two houses in Dallas, several vehicles, nine guns and an array of fine jewelry.
Rodolfo Javier Falcon, whom federal prosecutors say held a leadership role in the drug-trafficking organization, has been ordered to serve 30 years in prison. The 36-year-old Cass County, Texas, man pleaded guilty Aug. 20 to conspiring to distribute controlled substances. Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei’s office says Falcon also has agreed to forfeit $5 million in drug proceeds.
Gerardo Carbrera Ramirez, 28, of Franklin County, Texas, recently was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in federal prison after pleading guilty June 11 to conspiring to distribute controlled substances. He also agreed to give up $7,500 in drug proceeds.
And Eleazar Martinez Reyes must serve 87 months in prison and forfeit $150,000 in drug proceeds. The 41-year-old Camp County man pleaded guilty Aug. 4 to conspiring to distribute controlled substances and to illegal re-entry following his removal from this country.
Previously sentenced were Armando Moreno Jr., Jose Geraldo Ornelas-Pineda and Julio Villarreal.
Awaiting sentencing are Dalia Janet Campos Rosales, Claudia Claribel Gardea and Jose Armando Rosales.
And David Martinez has pleaded not guilty to an unspecified charge and is awaiting trial. The U.S. attorney’s office says he faces 15 years to life in federal prison if convicted as charged.
According to information presented in court, Falcon, Ramirez, Reyes, Martinez, Rosales-Bernal, Villarreal, Moreno, Gardea, Ornelas-Pineda and others conspired to distribute more than 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of cocaine plus methamphetamine and heroin from the Jalisco Nueva Generacion drug cartel in Mexico.
The group is accused of distributing drugs in Dallas, East Texas, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois and Michigan. Federal prosecutors say Falcon, Gardea and Ornelas-Pineda once were stopped in Tennessee while carrying nine kilograms (almost 20 pounds) of cocaine from Rosales-Bernal to North Carolina. Two young children were with them.
The organization also was responsible for shipping drug proceeds back to Mexico. On one occasion, law officers intercepted a bulk cash shipment of about $350,000.
Prosecutors say Rosales-Bernal, who also held a leadership role, and Falcon, Martinez and others carried guns to safeguard their drugs and cash.
And Rosales-Bernal and others spent their drug proceeds a Dodge Charger Hellcat, flashy watches, exotic weapons, a jewel-encrusted rooster necklace and numerous pairs of luxury shoes and boots, among other things.
“Mexican drug cartels are not welcome in East Texas,” Ganjei says in a statement released Thursday. “My office — in partnership with the phenomenal men and women of the Texas law enforcement community — will work tirelessly to dismantle any drug-trafficking operations based in East Texas, or even those that happen to be passing through.”