Pubdate: Wed, 28 Oct 2009
Source: Allen American, The (TX)
Copyright: The Allen American 2009
Author: Stephanie Flemmons
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


A member of a large drug trafficking and money laundering operation
was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison Friday.

Hector Omero Rodriguez, 35, of Allen, pleaded guilty in June to one
count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, one
count of distribution of cocaine, and one count of conspiracy to
conduct money laundering.

According to Kathy Colvin, U.S. District Attorney's office
spokeswoman, Rodriguez was one of 22 members of the illegal operation
that led the Drug Enforcement Administration to conduct an
investigation named "Project Reckoning." In the operation, which
included both "Operation Dos Equis" - an investigation into a Mexican
cocaine distribution organization - and "Operation Vertigo" - an
investigation of a methamphetamine distribution organization - more
than $1 million in cash, about 300 kilograms of cocaine, about 400
pounds of methamphetamines and about 20 weapons were seized.

"Rodriguez and 20 co-defendants were indicted on charges related to
the operation, which was linked to the Mexican cartel, but operating
in North Texas," Colvin said. "A total of 13 defendants pled guilty
and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 51 to 262 months.
Three defendants pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing, and four
remain fugitives."

Uriel Palacios, 23, of Dallas, who worked with Rodriguez, pleaded
guilty to the same charges and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 30.

During the course of the investigation, DEA agents intercepted
numerous telephone conversations involving various members of the
organization, including communication between Rodriguez and Palacios
discussing the distribution of large quantities of cocaine.

Colvin said one call intercepted in July 2008 revealed Rodriguez asked
Palacios to deliver 50 kilograms of cocaine to another defendant at a
hotel. Agents also learned Rodriquez arranged to have cash earned from
the profits of cocaine to be secreted in tractor-trailers and shipped
to Mexico so more cocaine could be sent to the U.S. Agents also
learned a courier was delivering drug proceeds to Mexico. In May 2008,
agents detained the courier in Austin. The suitcase he was carrying
contained nearly $1.3 million.

This operation was a joint effort between the DEA; Dallas County
District Attorney's Office; IRS-Criminal Investigation; FBI; North
Texas HIDTA; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Dallas,
Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Farmers Branch, Coppell,
Richardson and Waxahachie police departments and the Dallas County
Sheriff's Office. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D