NPT Drug War: DEA claims busted smuggling ring delivered 25,000 pounds of pot a year
News release just in:
INDICTMENT AND ARREST OF EIGHT INDIVIDUALS AND THE EXECUTION OF TWO SEARCH WARRANTS
(El Paso, Texas) – Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) El Paso Field Division, announced the indictment and arrest of eight individuals and the execution of two search warrants in El Paso, Texas as a result of an investigation into the Rodrigo Eckenroth drug trafficking organization (DTO). The investigation of the Eckenroth DTO was initiated by a DEA El Paso Division Multi-Agency HIDTA Task Force along with the El Paso Police Department Stash House Task Force, based on information that the Eckenroth DTO was responsible for the distribution of approximately 25,000 pounds of marijuana a year throughout the United States during 2007 and 2008. The investigation identified various warehouses and residences in the El Paso metropolitan area that had been utilized by the Eckenroth DTO to store and transport drug shipments.
Today’ arrests are an addition to six Eckenroth DTO members who were taken into custody prior to today. During this investigation the DEA, the El Paso Police Department and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, seized several bank accounts that were allegedly utilized to hide assets and launder drug proceeds. Also seized were 24 vehicles, three residences, two commercial properties, several tons of marijuana and approximately $334,000.
On April 22, 2009 a Federal Grand Jury in a 17 count indictment charged Rodrigo Rodney Eckenroth, Luis Rivera, Jeorge Rivera, Josefina Ornelas-Murguia, Liliana Ornelas-Rodriguez, Mario Alberto Munoz Jr., Uriel Herrera-Gallegos and Joel Osvaldo Ramirez-Numez with numerous drug trafficking and money laundering violations. Eckenroth was also indicted on a Title 26 charge of Attempting to Evade and Defeat Tax. More arrests are anticipated.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the El Paso Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, United States Marshal Service, Texas Department of Public Safety and the El Paso County Sheriffs Office. Assistant United States Attorney John Gibson is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.