Alleged High-Ranking Member of Los Zetas Cartel Arrested
LAREDO, TX—Jose Manuel Saldivar-Farias aka “Z-31” or “El Borrado” has been charged with conspiracy to possess marijuana allegations after illegally entering the U.S., announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Saldivar-Farias, 27, is alleged to be a regional commander for the Los Zetas transnational criminal organization. Initially arrested on immigration charges related to his illegal presence in the U.S., a criminal complaint unsealed today charges him and Osiel Hernandez-Martinez, 26, with conspiracy to possess more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Salidvar-Farias is also charged with giving false statements to government agents.
They appeared in federal court in Laredo this morning and are set for a detention and probable cause hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Guillermo R. Garcia on Friday, March 20, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in Laredo.
The criminal complaint alleges that on the night of March 12, 2015, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Quick Reactionary Force (QRF), in conjunction with the Texas Air National Guard, were conducting fly-over operations over Falcon Lake. During that time, they observed a boat traveling northward into the U.S. from Mexico at a high rate of speed. Suspecting the individuals were undocumented foreign nationals attempting to enter the U.S. illegally, DPS-QRF immediately apprehended the individuals aboard the boat, which included Saldivar-Farias and Hernandez-Martinez. Upon arrest, the criminal complaint alleges Saldivar-Farias lied to agents about his true identity.
According to the criminal complaint, Saldivar-Farias is the regional commander of the northern region of Mexico to include the states of Coahuilla, Taumalipas and Nuevo Leon, Mexico, as well as Zapata, Texas. As such, he is allegedly in charge of all narcotics moving through the area. The criminal complaint alleges several multi-ton quantities of marijuana have been crossed into U.S. over this area every week.
If convicted on the drug charges, Saldivar-Farias and Hernandez-Martinez each face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison and a possible maximum fine of $10 million. Saldivar-Farias also faces up to five years and a $250,000 fine if convicted of making false statements.
The arrest was a collaboration effort between FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations which are all investigative partners within the South Texas corridor to include Customs and Border Protection components Office of Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations and Office of Air and Marine. DPS also provided invaluable assistance in the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Casey N. MacDonald and Anibal Alaniz are prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.