A Bellaire resident was among a number of defendants sentenced to federal prison terms on Wednesday for gang related drug trafficking.
Fifteen members and associates of the Raza Unida gang have been charged with drug trafficking, amongst other charges, following a three-year investigation by the FBI and the Houston Police Department.
The investigation revealed that the defendants conspired with one another from October 2007 through April 2009 to procure illegal drugs, to use “stash” houses to store, wrap, package and distribute the drugs to numerous associates involved in drug trafficking, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno said. They also allegedly used houses, apartments, hotel rooms, vehicles and cell phones to further the drug trade.
During the investigation, agents seized approximately three kilograms of cocaine, 1.2 lbs. of methamphetamine, more than $51,000 and 15 guns, including an assault rifle.
The Raza Unida prison gang was reported to have formed in the 1990s in the Texas prison system by Latino inmates as a criminal enterprise with the purpose of enriching the members and associates of the gang through the distribution of narcotics.
“The Raza Unida gang can be a violent group. Its members and their illicit activity pose a continuing threat to our communities,” Moreno said. “This prosecution exemplifies the cooperative law enforcement efforts in this district to stop the violent activities of street and prison gangs and make our neighborhoods safer.”
Five men were sentenced to federal prison, by U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison, without parole for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine and/or possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.
Ricardo Obando, a 36-year-old Bellaire resident, was sentenced to 105 months in federal prison.
Brandell Humbird, a 37-year-old West Columbia resident, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison.
Samuel Maldonado, a 34-year-old Houston resident, was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison.
Ray Contreras, a 35-year-old Houston resident, was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison.
Henry Garcia, aka Shorty, a 32-year-old Victoria, Texas resident, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
All five defendants are members and associates of Raza Unida and pleaded guilty in late 2009 and 2010, Moreno said.
The leader of the Houston area Raza Unida gang, Pedro Muniz, aka Pete, a 38-year-old Houston resident, was sentenced on Nov. 4 to 235 months imprisonment for leading a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine.
Esteban Martinez, aka 21, aka Viente Uno, a 38-year-old Pharr, Texas resident, who occupied a leadership position in South Texas area for the gang, was sentenced to 262 months imprisonment.
Six others were charged and were previously convicted for their role in the Raza Unida gang earlier this month.
Gilberto Espinosa, a 30-year-old Houston resident was sentenced to 60 months in prison.
Roberto Escobar, aka Mundo, a 40-year-old Navasota, Texas resident, was sentenced to 121 months.
Ramon Pena, aka Twin, a 31-year-old Houston resident received 120 months.
Arnold Ramos, aka Coach, a 40-year-old Houston resident, received 84 months.
Gregory Amador, aka Mario, a 34-year-old Houston resident, received 41 months.
Rene Ruiz, a 28-year-old Houston resident, was sentenced earlier this year to one year probation after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance.
Two remaining defendants charged in this case, who also stand convicted and are pending sentencing later this month, are Raul Segura, a 37-year-old Kingwood, Texas resident and Mario Garza, aka Green Eyes, a 38-year-old Houston resident.