PLANO – Two Los Zetas Cartel leaders has been sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.
Jose Maria Guizar-Valencia, 43, of Tulare, CA, pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, 2021, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced to 480 months in federal prison on Nov. 15, 2022, by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell.
Francisco Hernandez-Garcia, 53, of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, also pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, 2021, to the same charges and was sentenced to 480 months in federal prison on Nov. 15, 2022, by Judge Schell.
According to information presented in court, in approximately January 2010, law enforcement authorities began an investigation into the drug trafficking activities of the Los Zetas Drug Trafficking Cartel. The investigation revealed that from 2007 to 2014, members of the cartel were involved in numerous crimes including drug trafficking, money laundering, and firearms trafficking in the Eastern District of Texas and elsewhere. Throughout the investigation, Heriberto Lazcano, a.k.a. “Z-3”, was identified as the leader of the cartel who gave final orders, to include the authorization of killings.
Although Lazcano was identified as the leader of the organization, Miguel Angel Trevino-Morales, a.k.a. “Z-40”, was seen as his equal and controlled the vast majority of the cartel soldiers. Miguel’s brother, Omar Trevino-Morales, a.k.a. “Z-42”, along with Francisco Hernandez-Garcia, a.k.a. “El 2000”, and Jose Maria Guizar-Valencia, a.k.a. “Carlitos” and “Z-43”, were identified as three of the top Los Zetas Cartel leaders. During the investigation, Guizar-Valencia was identified as one of the top leaders of the cartel who was responsible for overseeing the cartel’s drug distribution, firearms trafficking, and bulk cash smuggling. As one the organizations leaders, Guizar-Valencia approved criminal activities conducted by members of the cartel. Under Guizar-Valencia’s leadership, the cartel arranged for the importation of cocaine from Central America to Mexico, which was subsequently distributed throughout the United States. Guizar-Valencia, operating in Guatemala, was responsible for overseeing ton-quantity shipments of cocaine from Guatemala to Mexico and coordinated the transportation of the cocaine from Southern Mexico to Coahuila, Mexico. Guizar-Valencia also managed the receipt of millions of dollars in United States currency obtained from the sale of cocaine in the United States, which was used to pay for firearms purchased in the United States and for cocaine shipments coordinated out of Guatemala on behalf of the cartel.
Guizar-Valencia was identified as the principal boss of William DeJesus Torres-Solarzano, a.k.a. “Mario Ruiz Castillo,” “Comandante W,” and “Comandante William”, and he oversaw and directed the activities of Torres-Solorzano and Horst Walther Overdick-Mejia. Torres-Solorzano and Overdick-Mejia coordinated the cartel’s day-to-day cocaine trafficking operations in Guatemala. Torres-Solorzano was also identified as a high-ranking member of the cartel and a cartel leader in Guatemala.
The sentencings this week are the latest of high-level members of the Zeta Cartel. Hugo Cesar Roman Chavarria received a life sentence, William DeJesus Torres Solorzano received 480 months, and Jose Ramirez received 480 months in October of 2022.
“Amazing effort by law enforcement to bring these dangerous criminals to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. “Prosecutors and law enforcement agencies conducted a very long-term investigation and coordinated with our international partners to achieve this outcome, they did an outstanding job.”
“The Zetas were known for their ruthless and violent tactics as they distributed their drugs throughout Mexico and the United States,” said Eduardo A. Chávez, Special Agent in Charge of DEA Dallas. “These sentences reflect that the DEA and our law enforcement partners are equally known throughout North Texas as holding those criminals accountable for their deeds to the fullest extent of the law. Good will always prevail and our resolve will never falter.”
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Homeland Security and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ernest Gonzalez.
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Public Affairs Officer/Law Enforcement Coordinator