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Victoria man one of seven sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking and money laundering

By Gheni_Platenburg
Oct. 31, 2011 at 5:31 a.m.
Updated Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.


A Victoria man was one of seven men sentenced on Monday to federal prison on drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

During a plea hearing held in McAllen before United States District Judge Randy Crane, Darrell Bruce Hamilton, 52, of Victoria, pleaded guilty to the charges.

Brothers Alonzo Avila, 52; Seferino Avila, 44; Alejandro Avila, 38; all of Mission, along with Carlos Javier Gomez, 38; Cristelo Mendoza, 50; both from Edinburg; and Ricky Wayne Saunders, 45, of Malta, Ohio, also pleaded guilty to the drug and money laundering charges during the hearing.

According to a news released issued by the United States Attorney's Office, the men were sentenced as follows:

Hamilton - 48 months in federal prison, followed by three years probation for possession with intent to distribute 117 kilograms of cocaine.

Alonzo Avila - 324 months in federal prison, followed by 10 years probation for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 385 kilograms of cocaine; and 240 months in federal prison, followed by three years probation for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. Both sentences will run concurrently.

Seferino Avila - 292 months in federal prison, followed by 10 years probation for possession with intent to distribute more than 117 kilograms of cocaine; and 240 months in federal prison, followed by three years probation for conspiracy to launder money. Both sentences will run concurrently.

Alejandro Avila - 58 months in federal prison followed by five years probation for possession with intent to distribute 60 kilograms of cocaine.

Gomez and Mendoza - 240 and 108 months, respectively, for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 385 kilograms of cocaine. Gomez will serve 10 years probation, while Mendoza will serve three.

Saunders - 24 months in federal prison followed by three years probation for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

Julio Cesar Leon, 38, of Edinburg, and Juan Javier Mendiola, 37, of McAllen, who have also pleaded guilty, will be sentenced at a later date.

In 2006, Drug Enforcement Administration agents in New York City seized 340 kilograms of cocaine from a tractor-trailer owned by Alonzo Avila, according to the news release.

The two-year investigation revealed that the Avila drug trafficking organization used tractor-trailers to transport cocaine and marijuana from the Rio Grande Valley to various cities including New York, N.Y., Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta, Ga.

The investigation also revealed that Alonzo Avila was the head of the organization. His brothers assisted him. The case was investigated by the DEA and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anibal J. Alaniz.

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