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    Mexican drug smuggler conviction part of federal crackdown

    Mexican drug smuggler conviction part of federal crackdown



    By Maki Somosot
    Staff Writer

    Published: Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 10:40 p.m.

    A high-ranking Mexican cartel member convicted of drug distribution charges Wednesday is the latest to fold in an ongoing federal crackdown on a multi-state, cross-border drug trafficking operation that includes Houma, authorities say.

    Sergio Grimaldo, 34, faces a potential lifetime in prison and a $10 million fine after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine to the Up Da Bayou Boyz, a violent street gang in Houma. He will be sentenced Jan. 20 in U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance’s courtroom.

    The Mexican national was extradited to the U.S. in July 2014 after federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents seized a supply of cocaine hydrochloride from Houma in 2009 and also bought drugs from Grimaldo during a 2010 investigation in Beaumont, Texas, court records show.

    Grimaldo’s plea follows the arrest of his uncle Noe Juarez, 46, a veteran Houston Police officer who was arrested in early April on the same charges.

    Named the department’s cop of the year in 2009, Juarez is accused of supplying the notorious Los Zetas drug cartel with weapons, cars and information. He awaits trial in a New Orleans federal court.

    Founded in northeastern Mexico by army deserters, Los Zetas is known as one of the deadliest and most sophisticated cartels south of the border, with its members frequently carrying out brute violence, including beheadings, as a means to an end.

    Sergio’s brother Efrain Grimaldo, 34, was sentenced to 33 years in prison after being found guilty last year during a federal trial in New Orleans, officials said. He was found responsible for importing 1,640 kilograms, or 3,616 pounds, of cocaine to the United States, including to Houma, Jackson, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., and New York, authorities said.

    Fellow Los Zetas member Sabino Duarte, who has testified against both brothers, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to similar charges.

    Drug Enforcement Administration agents began their investigation in 2006 when they traced the local supply of cocaine back to Houston and ultimately to the Grimaldos, who ran the distribution network out of the northern Mexican city of Monterrey.
    Agents said that Sergio Grimaldo directly interfaced with local drug distributors Edward Talley, 45, and Mark Griffin, 39, both of whom were arrested in 2009. Talley is being held in the St. Tammany Parish jail and Griffin is serving time in the Catahoula Correctional Center.

    The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office, Houma Police Department, Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office and the narcotics division of Louisiana State Police Troop C in Gray are among the agencies that investigated the case along with the DEA in New Orleans.

    Assistant U.S. attorneys John F. Murphy and Theodore R. Carter III prosecuted the case.

    In 2008, Sergio Grimaldo was indicted in an Alabama federal court of conspiracy to possess and distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, but the charges were dropped in 2013, according to court documents.

    http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20...cles/150929867


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    Pitifully small progress in "crackdown."

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