McALLEN, Texas – Several men are facing up to life in prison for their alleged roles on a cocaine trafficking conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Today, a federal grand jury returned a multi-count indictment against Mexican citizens Oscar Obed Manzanares, 22, Jose Bernardo Gonzalez-Gomez, 55, and Jose Santiago Luna-Duran, 45; Arlando Garcia-Garcia, 40, and Martin Vela-Alanis, 58, both legal permanent residents of Edinburg; and Martin Adrusbel Vela, 35, Edinburg. Vela-Alanis was additionally indicted for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Originally charged by criminal complaint, they are expected to appear for their arraignments before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future.
The charges allege that on March 22, Manzanares traveled into the United States from Mexico in a GMC and park at a local business in McAllen. Luna-Duran then took the vehicle to a property in Edinburg, according to the charges.
There, authorities allegedly observed individuals exchange items between the GMC and a Ford pickup truck. The charges allege Luna-Duran then brought the GMC back to Manzanares at the nearby business, while Garcia-Garcia took the Ford and continued on to a separate residence where he removed a large duffel bag from the truck.
Vela and Vela-Alanis allegedly resided on the property. Garcia-Garcia and Gonzalez-Gomez were also present, according to the charges.
Law enforcement executed a search warrant at the residence where they recovered a duffel bag containing 15 bundles of a white powdery substance, according to the charges. The bundles allegedly field tested positive for cocaine and had a weight of approximately 15 kilograms. The charges also allege they found over $90,000 and a black and gold Colt Model 1911 pistol.
At the same time, Luna-Duran allegedly returned to the business where authorities ultimately detained him as well as Manzanares. A K-9 search of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of bulk cash amounting to over $238,000, according to the charges.
If convicted, each man faces up to life in prison as well as a possible $10 million.
Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, and police departments in Hidalgo, Mission, McAllen, Alton, Palmview and Pharr. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Brostowin is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.