A Fort Bend man alleged to be the kingpin in an international cocaine smuggling operation has been sentenced to 262 months in federal prison.
Federal prosecutors said Isaias Gallegos, aka “Mickey,” 32, was the leader of Houston-based drug trafficking organization and responsible for the transportation of millions of dollars in drug proceeds to traffickers in Mexico.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner handed down the sentence Wednesday morning.
Gallegos had previously pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and abetting money laundering.
Hittner sentenced Gallegos to 262 months on the conspiracy count and 240 months for the money laundering count, with the two sentences to be served concurrently. The prison term will be followed by five-year’s probation.
The year-and-a-half long Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation resulted in the identification of Gallegos as the leader of the family-operated conspiracy.
His wife Suleyka Gallegos, 32, was charged with being responsible for the receipt and sale of cocaine from Mexican drug sources to distributors in Houston and throughout the United States. Gallegos’ sister Wendy Perez Gallegos, 35, and brother-in-law Julio C. Villanueva-Barbosa, 40, both of Laredo, Texas; his cousin, Fernando Gallegos-Saucedo, 23, and his uncle, Francisco Paniagua Romero, 38, both of Houston, were also part of the drug operation.
Alvaro Dalberto Palma, 33, and Keith Jamail Sonia, 36, both of Houston, were also identified as cocaine distributors for the organization, while Jorge Alberto Briones, 40, and Mario Garza Mora, 37, both of Laredo, and J. Jesus Santos, 40, of Houston, were identified as transporters of drug proceeds between Houston and Mexican drug traffickers.
From November 2009 through April 2010, Homeland Security Investigations agents seized $1,844,760 in drug proceeds from couriers transporting funds from the Gallegos organization in Houston to drug traffickers in Mexico. The investigation culminated on April 28, 2010, when search warrants were issued for locations being used by the organization. The search warrants resulted in the seizure of 147 kilograms of cocaine, an additional $160,704 in drug proceeds and 11 assault rifles.
A residence in Houston purchased with drug proceeds in the name of Suleyka found to be used as a drug manufacturing operation used by the organization. At the house, a non-controlled substance was added to the cocaine and then repackaged to appear as if it was in its originally shipped purity. This allowed the organization to command higher prices for lower quality cocaine, prosecutors said.
Sonia and Mora were sentenced on Jan. 17 to 135 and 41 months in federal prison, respectively.
Villanueva-Barbosa was sentenced on Feb. 1 to 87 months.
Sonia and Villanueva-Barbosa pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, along with Suleyka Gallegos and Palma, who were sentenced to 87 and 120 months, respectively.
Garza pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting conspiracy to money launder as did Perez Gallegos, Gallegos-Saucedo, Romero, Briones and Santos who were sentenced to 87, 151, 210, 97 and 97 months, respectively.
In addition to the drug proceeds, multiple automobiles utilized by the organization in connection with their drug trafficking activities, as well as the residence located on Ireland in Houston were also seized by agents during the course of the investigation.
The investigation, dubbed Operation GoodRum, was conducted by Homeland Security and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.
Assistant United States Attorney Rick Hanes prosecuted the case.