Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

5 Plead Guilty Following Massive Stash House In Houston

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

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Five men arrested in connection with the discovery of more than 100 undocumented immigrants in a stash house all plead guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens.

The men, women and children were held against their will by smugglers or coyotes. They were found on March 19, 2014, living in deplorable conditions in a stash house, located in the 14700 block of Almeda School Road.

Jose Aviles-Villa, 34, Jonathan Solorzano-Tavila, 28, Antonio Barruquet-Hildeberta, 40, Jose Cesmas-Borja, 22, and Eugenio Sesmas-Borja, 20, all from Michoacan, Mexico, also plead guilty to the use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

The convicted smugglers admitted they obtained substantial profits as a result of the conspiracy. They had established networks who brought the undocumented immigrants into the U.S. illegally across the Southwest border.

The undocumented immigrants were then held in stash houses while the smugglers arranged payment of remaining smuggling fees from their families.
While in the stash house, the conspirators seized the victims’ clothes, shoes, phones and other possessions. The conspirators used guns, paddles, tasers and other equipment to control and prevent them from escaping from the stash house.

They guarded the victims with guns displayed in plain view and threatened to kill them by shooting them in the back of the head if they tried to escape.

In one specific instance, the conspirators contacted the mother of one of the victims and told her to pay an additional $13,000 for the victim and her two children. She was advised that if she did not pay, they would “make her family disappear and make her family pay.”

Sentencing has been set for July 30, 2014. They each face up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy conviction as well as a mandatory minimum of five years for using a firearm which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.

They will all remain in custody pending that hearing.

Sucka Free Records CEO Heads To Prison

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

The founder of a Houston hip-hop label is headed to federal prison for 144 months without the possibility of parole for his role a widespread cocaine trafficking conspiracy that goes back as far as 17 years.

Cocaine was smuggled from Mexico through this city and on to other parts of the United States as part of the conspiracy in which about 40 people have been convicted.

Estell Douglas Hobbs Jr., a grandfather who has no prior criminal record.

He said months earlier that he was under a lot of stress, but could handle it.

Hobbs, the founder of Suckafree Records had fallen on hard times, was working in home reconstruction. He seemed to know what was coming with the criminal charges and that the past was catching up quickly.

“It is not easy. I am human. I worry about it, but I know God will not let anything come to me that I couldn’t deal with,” Hobbs told the Houston Chronicle as he discussed the case many months before pleading guilty.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents had recorded Hobbs in several phone conversations with Abraham Woods, an associate who was quickly released following an arrest for smuggling.

Woods, the group’s primary go-between with Mexico, was found tied up and shot execution-style in 2009 at a Houston apartment. Two bullets were fired into the back of his skull and a pillow case was pulled over his head. Authorities entered the apartment after complaints of a television blaring loudly for about 24 hours.

The case remains unsolved.

Bribery Allegations Could Rock Wal-Mart

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The New York Times has published an article which alleges that Wal Mart top management suppressed action on massive bribery in the expansion of Wal Mart de Mexico. Given corporate America’s relentless law breaking, this story tells a tale- and more.

NOTE- Wal Mart isn’t on trial here. Wal Mart should be given the basic courtesy of reply to the allegations in the NYT story and the rights of due process, not just “on principle”, but in fact. Trial by media would be particularly inappropriate in a case of this seriousness. This story illustrates far more dangerous and much more important issues for the wider corporate sector.

The story runs roughly:
1. Approvals for construction of Wal Mart stores happen super-fast.
2. Corruption in Wal Mart de Mexico alleged.
3. Conditions for approval, including environmental issues, “vanish”. (You don’t say.)
4. Investigators find evidence.
5. Top management does nothing.
6. Investigators removed from Wal Mart Mexico.
7. Auditor fired.
8. Further investigations commenced, but go nowhere.
9. Lack of action.
10. Parties involved in investigation leave Wal Mart.
11. Parties involved in alleged bribery leave Wal Mart.
12. Lack of action- Wal Mart decides not to take action against the person said to be the facilitator of the bribery.
At no point are regulators or law enforcement agencies involved in this situation, which went on for years. There’s no indication from the NYT story that they were even aware of the situation. Nor is/was the FBI involved, despite the fact that this situation involves the Federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The culture problem
OK, so now we have a picture of a corporate culture that doesn’t solve its own problems and is able to create the mess described by The New York Times for itself. There are some absurdities and some atrocities in this mix:
• Massive misuse of corporate money, for which the corporation could be held responsible, is alleged. (Corporations can be held liable for the actions of people working on their behalf, prima facie. Management can also be held responsible for misuse of funds by shareholders.)
• Equally massive amounts of documentation are produced on the subject, resulting in no effective action.
• Bribery is a criminal offence, both in Mexico and the United States.
• Conflicts of interest in terms of management, or in this case non-management, of the case were ignored despite advice to the contrary.
• The Mexican government was apparently not interacting on any level with Wal Mart regarding the allegations.
• The apparent assumption that all this information regarding the Mexican dealings would be “on the dark side of the moon, i.e., never come to light. (No, Pink Floyd didn’t invent the expression, either.)
Worthy of mention here is that Wal Mart apparently didn’t have a senior management fixer to deal with the problems at inception. (This person is basically a head kicker, able to fire with a phone call and do the damage control ASAP.) They had a remote process from the Mexican end to corporate headquarters. That’s a classic mistake. The only way to control internal problems is with a fast moving process which can keep up with developments and stop the rot. You just can’t do these things at a bureaucratic pace any more.

Sucka Free Records CEO pleads guilty to federal drug charges

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

(AllHipHop News) Former Houston music executive Duane “Big Hump” Hobbs is facing a minimum mandatory 10 years in prison, after pleading guilty to cocaine distribution charges.

Hobbs

Hump is the founder of Sucka Free, an influential Houston Hip-Hop label best known for releasing albums by Lil Flip.

Hump, born Estell Douglas Hobbs Jr, 52, was arrested on drug charges in December of 2011, after an investigation revealed that he was part of an African-American drug network.

Federal prosecutors arrested dozens of others in the network, which sold hundreds of kilos of cocaine regularly, from 1995 until 2010.

Hobbs would receive hundreds of kilos of cocaine and store drugs for the network, which operated in Mexico, Houston, Chicago and Mississippi.

Hobbs pleaded guilty on Monday (March 26) and now faces the minimum mandatory of 10 years in prison, without the possibility of parole.

At its height, Sucka Free released Lil Flip’s platinum album Undaground Legend and its follow-up, U Gotta Feel Me, which went double platinum.

Source: All Hip Hop.com

10-year old gives birth to baby boy

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Just when you think it couldn’t get any crazier ……. a 10-year old girl in Mexico has given birth to a baby boy.

The child reportedly weighs only 3.3 pounds.

The mother is resting at Hospital de la Mujer in Puebla, which is near Mexico City.  She is suffering from seizures and other medical problems as well, which led to the child being delivered by C-section.

44 dead in midst of Mexican prison riot

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

(AP Photo/Hand Maximo Musielik)

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — A fight among inmates led to a prison riot in northern Mexico that killed 44 people Sunday, a security official said.

Nuevo Leon state public security spokesman Jorge Domene Zambrano said the riot broke out at about 2 a.m. in a high-security section of a prison in the city of Apodaca outside the northern industrial city of Monterrey.

Several inmates attacked others, and the fighting then spread and blew up into a riot, Domene said. Forty-four people died before authorities regained control of the prison a couple of hours later, he said.

Families of the prisoners gathered outside the prison pushing at the fences and shouting at police to demand word of the victims.

Deadly fights happen periodically in Mexico’s prisons as gangs and drug cartels stage jail breaks and battle for control of penitentiaries, often with the involvement of officials.

Some 31 prisoners died in January during a prison riot in the Gulf coast city of Altamira in Tamaulipas state, which borders Texas. Another fight in a prison in the Tamaulipas border city of Matamoros in October killed 20 inmates and injured 12.

In July, a riot at a prison in the border city of Juarez killed 17 inmates. Mexican authorities detained the director and four guards over that clash. Surveillance video showed two inmates opening doors to let armed prisoners into a room where the slain victims were reportedly holding a party.

Twenty-three people were killed in a prison riot in Durango city in 2010, and a 2009 riot in Gomez Palacio, another city in the northern Mexican state of Durango, killed 19 people.

9 murdered in Mexico as gunmen open fire

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A masked man opened fire on a band playing popular norteno music Saturday in a Chihuahua city dance hall, killing five musicians, four customers and injuring 10 others.

Chihuahua prosecutors spokesman Carlos Gonzalez said the attack appeared to target members of the La Quinta Banda group but the motive behind the early morning shooting wasn’t clear. The suspect, a short man wearing a gray sweatshirt, fired about 40 times with a high-caliber weapon in the Far West disco.

Among the dead was an off-duty police officer, Gonzalez said.

Norteno singers in Mexico have been targeted before, apparently for getting involved with drug cartels, which pay them to compose narcocorridos, or ballads that glorify drug lords.

In 2010, popular norteno singer Sergio Vega was shot dead as he rode in his red Cadillac in Sinaloa, a state that has produced many of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpins. Another Norteno singer killed was Valentin Elizalde, “El Gallo de Oro,” who was shot to death along with his manager and driver in 2006 following a performance in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.

La Quinta Banda was well-known in the city of Chihuahua, but not nearly as popular as Elizalde or Vega.

Its MySpace account showcases songs mostly about love and parties.

Photos from local newspapers showed the bloody bodies of the band members lying next to their instruments on stage. Four people were killed in another shooting at the same dance hall in August 2009.

People who answered cell phones listed for La Quinta Banda identified themselves as relatives of the musicians but didn’t want to give their names.

The band had reduced its workload, while sometimes playing at extravagant parties in ranches, because of increased drug violence in the northern state.

Also on Saturday, federal police announced the capture of a leader of one armed gang hired by the world’s most powerful drug lord Joaquin Guzman, also known as El Chapo.

Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo, 33, is the suspected leader of Gente Nueva, an armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel mainly based in the border city of Ciudad Juarez. Federal police agents arrested Torres with his bodyguard Friday in the central Mexican city of Leon.

Federal police anti-drug chief Ramon Pequeno said Torres is accused of being the mastermind behind a September 2009 massacre at a rehab center where 18 people were killed.

Torres has an arrest warrant in El Paso, Texas, on drug trafficking charges, Pequeno said.

Bank robber uses skateboard as ‘getaway vehicle’

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Mexico City police say they have arrested a would-be bandit who rode his skateboard to bank robbery attempts.

Police say Sergio Ledesma and his skateboard have been turned over to prosecutors after he allegedly attempted to rob two banks by whispering threats to tellers.

Police say the teller at the first bank simply acted as if he hadn’t heard Ledesma, who then skated off to a second bank.

The second teller told police Ledesma appeared to whisper a threat. So the teller set off a silent alarm, and counted out the money while the would-be robber waited patiently.

Police said Friday Ledesma was still waiting when they arrived and arrested him.

Drug Dog Busts Snoop Dogg’s Bus

Monday, January 9th, 2012

(CNN) — Hip hop star Snoop Dogg faces a drug charge after border agents searched his tour bus along the same stretch of a west Texas highway where singer Willie Nelson was busted in 2010, a Texas sheriff said.

Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, “freely admitted” that three prescription bottles filled with marijuana cigarettes were his, a statement from the Hudspeth County, Texas, Sheriff said.

The entertainer’s representatives did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The rapper, like Nelson, is an outspoken proponent of pot and he is known to have a license to use prescription medical marijuana in California.

The bust happened early Saturday at his bus approached the U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint located in Sierra Blanca, Texas, at the U.S.-Mexico border about 85 miles southeast of El Paso, the sheriff’s statment said.

“During a routine check of U.S. citizenship the inspecting Border Patrol agent detected the odor of marijuana emitting from the inside of the vehicle and requested the driver to pull into the secondary inspection lane for further inspection,” the statement said.

A drug-detection dog sniffing inside the bus “alerted to a trash can located at the rear of the vehicle where a red prescription bottle containing rolled marijuana cigarettes were located,” the statement said. Two other containers with marijuana, weighing in all total of 0.130 pounds, were also found, it said.

Snoop Dogg freely admitted that the marijuana belonged to him and he was placed under arrest by U.S. Border Patrol agents and detained,” it said.

He was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, given a court date of January 20 and released, the sheriff said.

Suckafree CEO Big Hump Faces Cocaine Charges

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Houston Chronicle Reports: A little over a decade ago, Estell “Hump” Hobbs ran a Houston record label with up-and-coming hip-hop artist, Lil’ Flip, and had a deal with Sony potentially worth millions of dollars.

The agreement quickly crumbled under the weight of legal disputes and the two parted ways.

Hobbs has since worked in remodeling and construction as he seeks to resurrect the label, and now keep his freedom.

The 52-year-old father of four with no criminal record was recently charged with being part of a cocaine-distribution network that over 15 years reached from Mexico, through Houston and on to Chicago, Mississippi and elsewhere.

“It is stressful, it is painful to see my family worried for me after so many years of hard work and dedication to the label, the city and the family,” Hobbs told the Houston Chronicle Friday. “It is crazy. They are trying to take my house.”

Reflecting on his life and passion, he said he’s been influential in helping performers from hip hop’s “Dirty South” to beat the streets, and notes that his label, Suckafree Records, is looking for its next gospel singer.

On the advice of his lawyer, he said he would not discuss the charges or the criminals making accusations against him.

“It is always when you do the work of God that the devil tries to stay busy,” he said.

Hobbs is described by those who have known him as hard-working and active in his community as well as religious rap.

“I hate to see him in that type of trouble,” Lil’ Flip’s father, Wesley Weston Sr. said. The person I know him to be is a very good person,” said Weston, who is no longer in touch with Hobbs.

Alleged trafficking ties

The alleged conspiracy cuts a unique path as it connects what prosecutors said was a predominantly African-American distribution group directly with Mexican traffickers. Defense lawyer Robert Pelton notes Hobbs has never before been prosecuted for a crime.

He points to back to when Suckafree donated 150 bicycles to children for Christmas, and when Hobbs was recognized by the Hip Hop Summit, which has mobilized thousands of youth to vote.

“Mr. Hobbs has done a lot to help his family and people not only in the music industry, but the entirety of Harris County community,” Pelton said.

The man, who also goes by Duane and got the nickname “Humpty Hump” as a child, has not been known to flash cash, and has lived in the same modest house for years.

He is charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine and launder money, and if convicted faces 10 years to life in federal prison without parole.

His supposed role is unclear, but nobody contends he was a kingpin or a killer.

Authorities announced they intend to seize his house, a Hummer and other property on the grounds they are tied to illegal activity.

A judicial buzz saw has already convicted 38 people in the investigation, including one who allegedly told the DEA he delivered more than 100 kilograms of cocaine on multiple occasions to Hobbs.

All pleaded guilty as part of agreements to cooperate with authorities for leniency.

Hobbs, who is free on bail, is scheduled to be back in court at the end of January for a hearing that may reveal whether he and nine remaining defendants are taking deals rather than risking trial.

A hidden past?

Prosecutors contend that Hobbs has a past hidden in a conspiracy that lasted from 1995 to 2010.

Eric Davis, a Harris County sheriff’s deputy assigned to a DEA task force testified that informants have said Hobbs was at the scene of numerous deals.

David also said Hobbs was recorded in “several” phone conversations talking to an associate, Abraham Woods, who shortly after being released from custody following a drug bust in 2009 was found dead in a Houston apartment.

Woods, who was the group’s primary link to Mexican traffickers, was tied up and shot execution style, with two bullets to the back of the head. A pillow case had been pulled over his eyes.

The attack remains unsolved.

The drug investigation has also drawn links to Jaime Zamora, who is serving life in prison after being convicted earlier this year for ordering a Houston drug hit that killed an innocent man in a case of mistaken identity. That bloodshed was part of a back-and-forth feud between Zamora and a rival that claimed lives in Houston and Mexico.

Ron Wilson, a former state representative who served for 29 years, and has been Suckafree’s lawyer, said he was “very close” to the Hobbs family. Hobbs said he considers him a big brother.

Wilson testified he knows Hobbs, his wife and his children, and he’s never known him to carry wads of cash or keep company with drug dealers or other criminals.

“No, I have not seen that,” Wilson said.

Pelton said Hobbs is being framed by desperate criminals willing to lie: “A bunch of guys in the drug business, not any normal citizens, but a bunch of dope fiends.”

Hobbs said he’s taking things day by day and staying close to his family.

It is not easy. I am human. I worry about it, but I know God will not let anything come to me that I couldn’t deal with,” he said. “I am surrounded by praying warriors.”