Luis Perez-Barocela, 38, has been ordered to prison for more than 24 years for his participation in a large drug trafficking conspiracy, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. A federal jury in Corpus Christi found Perez-Barocela, of Houston, guilty after three days of trial and less than three hours of deliberation on Thursday, May 30, 2013.
Today, Senior U.S. District Judge John Rainey, who presided over the trial, handed Perez-Barocela a 292-month sentence for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana from October 2011 until his arrest on Oct. 24, 2012. Perez-Barocela will also be required to serve a term of five years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.
Evidence at trial established that the organization moved large amounts of marijuana in tractor-trailers hauling produce through the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint and on to other major cities within the United States. From October 2011 until April 2012, approximately 4,000 kilograms of marijuana was seized. Those seizure have, to date, resulted in the convictions of three tractor-trailer drivers, Jose Benitez, 46, of Houston, Ernesto Cabrera-Enriquez, 39, of Miami, Fla., Noe Galindo, 37, of Weslaco, as well as Oscar Quijano, 43, of Dallas.
The government proved Perez-Barocela was responsible for recruiting drivers in the scheme. He and his co-defendants were also tasked with escorting the loads through the checkpoint while safely situated in other passenger vehicles and maintaining contact with the drivers by phone.
Drivers Benitez, Cabrera-Enriquez, Galindo and others provided testimony they were each recruited by Perez-Barocela and offered between $15,000 and $55,000 to drive approximately 700 pounds of marijuana through the checkpoint and on to various cities within the United States. However, they learned upon their arrest that they had actually been hauling between 1,200 and 2,800 pounds.
Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) testified as to photographs showing Perez-Barocela, his co-defendants and/or vehicles associated with the defendants passing through the checkpoint often within minutes of load vehicles. Additionally, the jury heard testimony regarding cellular telephone records that demonstrated contact between Perez-Barocela and the drivers in the days and weeks leading up to their arrest.
Perez-Barocela will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case was investigated by DEA, HSI and Border Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey D. Preston is prosecuting the case.