Developer gets 20-year sentence in Gulf Cartel laundering, smuggling ring case
February 28, 2011 10:45 PM
Jared Taylor

McALLEN — A federal judge sentenced a local real estate developer and his associate to lengthy prison sentences Monday, after the pair pleaded guilty to their involvement in a nationwide smuggling ring that funneled money to the Gulf Cartel in Mexico.

McAllen resident Marin Herrera, 57, and Omar Alvarez, 38, of Sullivan City, were sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi.

Both men had pleaded guilty to their involvement in drug smuggling and money laundering operation that involved the Gulf Cartel.

Judge Hayden Head sentenced Herrera to 20 years in federal prison. Alvarez received a 15-year prison sentence.

Beyond the prison time and $25,000 fines, the government seized 77 pieces of property across western Hidalgo County.

The drug smuggling and money laundering ring involved distribution points in Miami, Chicago, Atlanta and Houston, prosecutors said. Herrera and Alvarez oversaw more than 660 pounds of cocaine that moved from the Rio Grande Valley to those cities between January 2006 and June 2010.

But Herrera attempted to cover up the operation under the veil of New Millennium Developers, the company he co-founded in 2007, intent on turning a tract of now-seized land along Glasscock Road into an upscale residential subdivision.

Alvarez used one of Herrera’s residences in Sullivan City as a waypoint for cocaine headed north and the money that filtered back to Mexico, prosecutors said.

Federal authorities arrested Herrera and his partner, Reynaldo Flores Jr., last June as part of a nationwide sweep aimed at disrupting Mexican drug cartel activity in the U.S. Dubbed “Project Deliverance,