Hearing held for Mission family connected to drug and money laundering conspiracy
McALLEN — Raymundo “Mundito” Villarreal’s racehorse, “BP Cartels Alibi,” made him nearly $450,000 in May 2012. Villarreal was about 19 years old at the time.
This and other details were revealed Thursday during a scheduled hearing for more than 10 members of a Mission family, who stood in front of a judge in connection with federal drug and money laundering charges.
Inside a packed federal courtroom, more than 20 friends and family of the Villarreal family sat through a nearly three-hour court hearing to find what would happen next to 11 members of the family accused, among other things, of trafficking cocaine and marijuana into the U.S.
The nine-count indictment brought by a grand jury in April and unsealed last week charges 15 people, including another person whose identity was not revealed, with conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the indictment.
“Since January 2000, the defendants allegedly conspired to “(1) engage in financial transactions using proceeds derived from the importation, receiving, concealment, buying, and/or selling cocaine; and (2), transport or transmit monetary instruments to locations outside of the United States in an effort to conceal the source, ownership and control of proceeds derived from unlawful activity,” states the indictment.
One by one, U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos called members of the Villarreal family who, with the exception of two family members, waived their right to the hearing and asked to have their detention hearing in San Antonio, where the indictment was originally fined.
Listed on the indictment are:
• Raymundo “Mundo” Villarreal-Arelis, 45
• Juan Villarreal-Arelis, 43
• Jose Luis Villarreal-Gonzalez, 32
• Manuel Villarreal-Gonzalez, 40
• Gilberto Villarreal-Villarreal, 27
• Juan Antonio Villarreal, 24
• Jose Luis Villarreal-Arelis, 57
• Norma Leticia Villarreal-Garcia, 47
• Jovanna Villarreal-Diaz, 37
• Raymundo “Mundito” Villarreal, 23
• Nancy Isela Villarreal-Gonzalez, 51
• Iza Corina Flores-Alanis, 36
• Jesus Jaime Andrade, 37
• Sergio Guadalupe Adame-Ochoa, 65
• Denis Winn, 54
Nancy Isela Villarreal-Gonzalez, whose attorney did not appear in time for the hearing, was one of the two people who did not waive the hearing. She had her hearing reset to June 28.
However, Raymundo “Mundito” Villarreal Jr. requested a detention hearing right there and then.
After testimony from Internal Revenue Service Special Criminal Investigations Agent Steve Pennington, who investigated members of the Villarreal family along with other federal agencies, Ramos denied bond for the youngest Villarreal and remanded him into the custody of U.S. Marshals.
Ramos said the denial was in part because the court had “no idea” as to Villarreal Jr.’s assets.
Pennington said the money obtained through the sale of drugs was used to purchase among other things, horses, which were then trained to race, in an attempt to make the illegal drug money, ‘clean.’
The unemployed 23-year-old student owns several horses worth of millions of dollars, according to Pennington, who added at one point Villarreal Jr. was awarded more than $440,000 after one of the horses he owned, BP Cartels Alibi, won a race in May 2012.
According to Heritage Place’s website, BP Cartels Alibi is the progeny of stallion Corona Cartel and mare My Ladys Alibi.
Pennington also testified that Villarreal Jr. acted as a lookout for the family when drugs were smuggled into the U.S. but could not provide any evidence to that at Thursday’s hearing.
During the investigation, authorities seized more than 100 kilograms of cocaine and just last week seized about $500,000 in farm equipment, approximately 20 vehicles, more than 60 guns, more than 30 horses and more than $50,000 in cash. Federal authorities are also seeking the forfeiture of 12 properties in Cameron and Hidalgo counties and $30 million of alleged criminal proceeds.
Villarreal Jr., Andrade, and Winn, 54, are charged with one count of conspiracy to structure transactions to evade reporting requirements, according to the indictment.
Raymundo Villarreal-Arelis, Juan Villarreal-Arelis, Jose Luis Villarreal-Gonzalez, and Manuel Villarreal-Garcia are charged with one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, according to court records.
Also indicted was a former Mexican prosecutor, Sergio Guadalupe Adame-Ochoa, according to court records.
Adame-Ochoa, a former director of intelligence and security for the state of Jalisco and an adviser to the former governor of Jalisco, Luis Carlos Najera, is accused of making false statements to bank officials in an effort to acquire nearly $2 million, according to court records.
Adame-Ochoa, who was arrested in San Antonio last week, is scheduled for a detention hearing June 30, according to court records.
Winn, who was arrested in Austin, was scheduled to appear before a judge Thursday morning, but details of the hearing weren’t immediately available.
If convicted, the defendants face between 10 years and life in federal prison on the drug conspiracy charge, up to 20 years in federal prison for the money laundering conspiracy charge, and up to five years in federal prison on the structuring charge, according to the release.