McALLEN, Texas – Another member of an armed crew involved in
stealing 246 kilograms of marijuana has been ordered to prison, announced
Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
Mexican nationals Eduardo Rodriguez-Silva, 27, and Arturo
Guadalupe Saldivar-Abrego, 30; Eliezer Jesus Vela, 39, of Pharr; and Luis Angel
Gonzalez, 21, and Nery Gonzalez Jr., 29, both of Edinburg, pleaded guilty to
one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Rodriguez-Silva, Saldivar-Abrego, Gonzalez and Gonzalez Jr. also pleaded to
conspiracy to carry and use a firearm during and in relation to a drug offense.
Today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane ordered
Rodriguez-Silva to serve 60 months imprisonment for the drug trafficking and a
120-term of imprisonment for the firearm charge. The sentences will run
consecutively for a total of 15 years in federal prison. He is expected to face
deportation proceedings following his release.
Judge Crane previously sentenced Gonzalez Jr. to 207 months
in prison, while Gonzalez, Saldivar-Abrego and Vela were ordered to serve 180,
96 and 60 months, respectively. Vela, Gonzalez and Gonzalez Jr. will also serve
four years of supervised release following completion of the prison terms. Not
a U.S. citizen, Saldivar-Abrego is expected to face deportation proceedings
following his release from prison.
On Oct. 9, 2015, a vehicle containing approximately 246
kilograms of marijuana was traveling on expressway 83. Rodriguez-Silva,
Saldivar-Abrego, Gonzalez and Gonzalez Jr. soon approached in a second vehicle
and fired gunshots at the load vehicle, forcing it to stop. They then transferred
the marijuana into their vehicle. Following a pursuit, officers apprehended
Saldivar-Abrego. Gonzalez and Gonzalez Jr. were arrested shortly thereafter. In
March of 2017, Rodriguez-Silva was arrested. A subsequent investigation
revealed Vela was the owner of the vehicle and that it was purchased knowing it
was to be used to transport narcotics.
All will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau
of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the
investigation along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives, FBI and police departments in San Juan and Alamo. Assistant U.S.
Attorney Rolando Cantu and Kristen Rees prosecuted the case.