Men forfeit land, money

October 21, 2011 9:55 PM

Two Cameron County men who have pleaded guilty to drug-trafficking offenses agreed in federal court to judgments against them totaling $6 million. They also agreed to forfeit numerous properties to the United States government.

These details are contained in the plea agreements entered into earlier this month by Armando Arambul, alias Baldy, Pelon and Mando, and Ricardo Vega, also known as Ricky, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

They each pleaded guilty in McAllen Oct. 6 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilos of cocaine and money laundering, court records show.

Arambul was identified as a significant transporter of cocaine from Brownsville to Houston and of money between the United States and Mexico, public records show.

The federal investigation also showed that Arambul had been engaged in drug trafficking since about 1992.

Arambul agreed to a $5 million money judgment against him. Furthermore, he agreed to forfeit two lots at 2117 Carlos Ave., one lot at 4402 Paredes Line Road, a lot at 2322 Eduardo Ave., and another lot at 2304 Eduardo Ave., including improvements on the properties.

According to the court record, he agreed that the deed of trust of one property in favor of a home building company is a sham and that properties under the name of two family members actually belong to him.

Arambul also agreed to forfeit payments on a promissory note in the amount of $32,000 that a straw lender loaned on his behalf to a borrower and to forfeit payments on a second promissory note in the amount of $160,000 that he loaned to other borrowers.

Vega agreed to a $1 million judgment against him and to forfeit property at 2631 Carlos Ave. According to the federal court record, Vega is the owner of the property although it is titled to a family member.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also is seeking the forfeiture of a 2006 Dodge Charger, a 2002 Ford truck and $9,235 from Arambul, according to a complaint for forfeiture that the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed in federal court in Brownsville on Wednesday.

The vehicles were purchased with proceeds from drug trafficking and the money was gained from a drug sale, according to the court record.

A search warrant was executed May 11 on Arambul’s residence on Carlos Avenue and the money was found in a metal box in the living room. The two vehicles were parked in the driveway.

A court ruling on this is pending.

Investigators also said that in the course of their inquiry, they found that Arambul had been convicted of possession of marijuana in district courts in Texas on three different occasions, each time under a false name.
On Aug. 7, 1995, Arambul was convicted under the name Juan Ruben Valdivez in Jefferson County and was sentenced to five years in jail.
On Sept. 17, 1996, he was convicted under the name Juan Pablo Medellin in Jackson County and was sentenced to eight years in jail
On Jan. 22, 1997, he was convicted under the name Concepcion Humberto Rea in Kleberg County and was sentenced to eight years in jail.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office pointed out in court records that the prior convictions and notice of enhancement of punishment could have the effect of increasing the penalty for Arambul to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment and a fine up to $8 million.

Sentencing for the two men is scheduled for Jan. 16 in McAllen. ... ambul.html