Texas Couple Convicted of Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracies Sentenced to 20 Years and Life in Prison
Aldo Villarreal, 46, of McAllen, Texas, and his wife, Juana Edith Vela-Salinas, 41, also of McAllen, Texas, were sentenced on December 21, 2105, by Senior U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes, Jr., announced David Rivera, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. In a joint federal jury trial in July 2015 the jury found Villarreal guilty of conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine and marijuana, and found both Villarreal and Vela-Salinas guilty of conspiring to commit money laundering.
The evidence at trial showed that, between 2008 and 2011, Villarreal was a manager in an extensive drug operation that distributed large quantities of cocaine in Nashville and Atlanta, and distributed large quantities of marijuana in Nashville. The evidence at trial revealed that the drugs were imported from Mexico into Texas before being transported to Atlanta and Nashville. The evidence also showed that Villarreal and Vela-Salinas conspired to launder the proceeds of that drug operation through a variety of methods, including the purchase of used vehicles in Nashville and the subsequent sale of vehicles at El Shadai, a used car lot the defendants owned and operated in Edinburg, Texas.
Judge Haynes sentenced Villarreal to a term of life in prison on the drug conspiracy conviction, to run concurrently with a twenty-year sentence on the money laundering conspiracy conviction. Judge Haynes sentenced Vela-Salinas to also serve twenty years on her money laundering conspiracy conviction.
In imposing sentence, Judge Haynes stated that this case involved one of the largest drug conspiracies he had seen in terms of the amount and value of the drugs involved and took notice that both defendants had threatened potential witnesses.
Judge Haynes also found that the defendants must forfeit two pieces of property alleged in the indictment and ordered the defendants to be held responsible for a forfeiture money judgment of $6,000,000.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security; the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department; the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lebanon Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brent A. Hannafan and Ben Schrader.