Federal Grand Jury Indicts Borger, Texas Family Members and Others for Running a Drug Distribution Conspiracy
Several Defendants Also Charged with Running an Illegal Gambling Business
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 16, 2011|
AMARILLO, TX—Late yesterday, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging several Borger, Texas, residents with various offenses related to narcotics trafficking, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. The defendants remain on pre-trial release following their arrests early this month by Special Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Arraignment dates have not yet been set.
The indictment charges each of the below-named defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit a drug offense:
- Jose Luis Fernandez, aka “Junior,” 37
- Francisco Villanueva Fernandez, aka “Frank,” 43
- Aaron Steven Fernandez, aka “Fat Ass,” 26
- Thomas Joseph Salazar, aka “T.J.”
In addition, Jose Fernandez is charged with three substantive counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of running an illegal gambling business. Thomas Salazar is also charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Defendants Aaron Fernandez and David Escobar are also each charged with one count of running an illegal gambling business. Defendants Jose, Francisco and Aaron Fernandez are brothers.
The indictment alleges that from 2009 to October 2011, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and five kilograms or more of cocaine. It further alleges that from December 2010 to October 2011, Jose Fernandez, Aaron Fernandez, and David Escobar operated an illegal sports book gambling operation.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, the conspiracy count carries a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $10 million fine; each of the substantive possession with intent to distribute cocaine counts carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The illegal gambling count carries a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation which would require the defendants, upon conviction, to forfeit the total amount of proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of the offense, including:
- More than $600,000 in cash already seized;
- Nine vehicles, including a camper, a boat, two Mercedez-Benz, a Bentley, and a Maserati;
- Seven pieces of real property in Hutchinson County, Texas.
Additionally, an Information was filed against Amy Fernandez, Francisco Fernandez’s wife, charging her with a violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5324(a)(3)&(d)(1), that is, structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements. If convicted, Amy Fernandez faces up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
The ongoing investigation is being led by the DEA with assistance from several agencies including the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Amarillo Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Schall is in charge of the prosecution.