Dallas Resident Uriel Palacios Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for His Role in Cocaine Trafficking and Money Laundering Conspiracy Related to Mexico's Gulf Cartel
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 20, 2009|
DALLAS—Uriel Palacios, 23, of Dallas, was sentenced this morning by Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater to 360 months (30 years) in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Palacios pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and one count of conspiracy to conduct money laundering.
Palacios was one of numerous members of cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking cells that were indicted in early September 2009. On September 16, 2009, 22 members of those narcotics trafficking cells were arrested in a coordinated enforcement action as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) led “Project Reckoning.” In that 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 $8 million in cash, approximately 300 kilograms of cocaine, approximately 400 pounds of methamphetamine, and approximately 20 weapons were seized. Palacios has been in custody since his arrest in September 2008 in Dallas County on unrelated charges.
According to documents filed in court, Palacios admitted that since March 2008, he was a member of a drug and money laundering operation located in North Texas. He was involved in the conspiracy with lead defendant, Hector Omero Rodriguez, and others, and conspired with Hector Rodriguez and others to engage in financial transactions with the proceeds, including profits of the cocaine distribution, to further the drug trafficking activities of the organization. Hector Rodriguez pleaded guilty to the same charges as Palacios and was sentenced last month to 20 years in federal prison.
During the course of the investigation, DEA agents intercepted numerous phone conversations with various members of the organization, including Palacios, discussing the distribution of cocaine. For example, intercepted phone calls and surveillance in mid-July 2008 led agents to the Elegante Hotel and Suites where Palacios delivered 50 kilograms of cocaine to Juan Manuel Hernandez. Hernandez pleaded guilty to his role in the cocaine distribution conspiracy and was sentenced in May to nearly 16 years in federal prison.
Hector Omero Rodriguez and others in the organization, received large quantities of cash from the sale of cocaine and in turn, Hector Rodriguez arranged to have that cash, secreted in tractor-trailers, shipped to Mexico so that more cocaine could be sent to the U.S. In May 2008, agents learned that Hector Rodriguez wanted Palacios to meet with a courier and give that courier drug proceeds for delivery to Mexico. Palacios met with the courier at a repair shop and delivered a large suitcase to him. The courier was eventually stopped by law enforcement in Austin, Texas, and the suitcase that Palacios delivered to him was seized. According to documents filed when Rodriguez pleaded guilty, that suitcase contained nearly $1.3 million in U.S. currency.
A total of 15 defendants have pleaded guilty in the case, U.S. v. Hector Omero Rodriguez, et al. and have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 51 to 262 months. Two defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. One defendant was recently arrested on the outstanding warrant. The remaining three defendants are fugitives.
DEA, Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation, FBI, North Texas HIDTA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Dallas Police Department, Fort Worth Police Department, Arlington Police Department, Grand Prairie Police Department, Farmers Branch Police Department, Coppell Police Department, Richardson Police Department, Waxahachie Police Department, and Dallas County Sheriff’s Office participated in this investigation.