This news follows on the heels of revelations last month that a Collin County deputy constable was working as a snitch for Los Zetas. Last year authorities claimed to have arrested Los Zetas' Dallas-area cell leader and more than 30 others affiliated with the Gulf Cartel, but obviously that didn't slow down the organization, which continued to ship up to 600 kilograms of blow per week from Laredo to Dallas before and after last year's arrests.
Raul Castillo, 31, and Jorge Rodriguez, 21, pleaded guilty a week ago in Laredo federal court to charges that they moved up to 600 kilograms of cocaine a week to Dallas between March 2007 and February.
After they were arrested this year, the two Laredo men admitted to federal agents that they worked for Miguel Treviño Morales, a fugitive who is the reputed commander of the Zetas in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
Authorities say that locally, a kilogram of cocaine goes for about $25,000, meaning these men are responsible for well over a half-billion dollars worth of narcotics moving up I-35. ...
Mr. Castillo and Mr. Rodriguez both face up to life in prison and more than $4 million in fines.
Five other men also have pleaded guilty in the case: Roberto Camacho, 22, Arturo Palencia, 21, Gustavo Fabian Chapa, 22, and Rene "Rana" Garcia, 29, all of Laredo; and Eduardo "Negro" Carreon-Ibarra, 24, of Nuevo Laredo. Some of them admitted taking part in murders and attempted murders in South Texas.
Court records do not link the five to Dallas-area activity. Two other people allegedly worked with Mr. Castillo and Mr. Rodriguez on the Dallas connection, but their names remain sealed while authorities try to arrest them.
According to court papers, Mr. Castillo and Mr. Rodriguez admitted that they used El Conejo and Turimex passenger buses, as well as tractor-trailers, to transport the drugs from Laredo to Dallas.
When tractor-trailers were used, the men told authorities that they would meet the northbound rigs at a truck stop near Waxahachie. They would take the drugs to a nearby warehouse to a man identified in court papers only as Guero.
Using buses is more complicated, the man told authorities.
Once an El Conejo bus crossed the border into Laredo, the men would wait for it to exit I-35 about four miles inside the city and stop at a restaurant to let passengers eat, court documents say. While everyone was inside the restaurant, Mr. Rodriguez and an accomplice loaded the bus with suitcases brimming with bundles of cocaine.
Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Castillo would then follow the bus in separate vehicles to Dallas. Mr. Rodriguez would then take the bundles to a stash house in Irving.
When they used Turimex buses, the men would first put cocaine-laden suitcases in a Nissan Xterra, then leave it, locked, at a bus station in Laredo. They would leave the vehicle's keys in the fuel door, and, according to court papers, a Turimex employee – not named in court papers – would move the bags into the buses. ...
Mr. Castillo admitted to transporting drug-sale proceeds from Dallas back to Laredo. He said the money went to someone known as El Dentista, who took the money over the border to Mr. Treviño Morales, the reputed Zeta commander.
The Webb County Sheriff's Department caught the men in February taking $870,000 to Laredo, authorities say.
Despite the massive amounts of dope involved, the federal prosecutor doesn't appear sanguine about the effectiveness of making these cases:
Jose Angel Moreno, the Laredo federal prosecutor on the case, said it's unclear whether cases like this make a big dent in drug trafficking.
"Everyone is replaceable in these organizations," he said. "We keep chasing them."