U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Texas
(210) 384-7100
April 9, 2015

Former Piedras Negras Plaza Drug Trafficker Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Distribution Charge

In San Antonio today, 46-year-old Esiquiel Rodriguez (aka “Cheke”), a former major drug trafficker in the Piedras Negras “Plaza,” pleaded guilty to his leadership role in the importation and distribution of thousands of kilograms of narcotics into the United States from Mexico announced Acting United States Attorney Richard Durbin, Jr., DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph Arabit and San Antonio Police Chief Anthony Treviño.

Appearing before Chief United States District Judge Fred Biery this morning, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. By pleading guilty, Rodriguez admitted that since the early 2000s, he was one of the major drug traffickers in the Piedras Negras “Plaza” in Coahuila, Mexico, and was responsible for the transportation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States.

Law enforcement investigations revealed that Rodriguez had strong associations with various large scale narcotics organizations, including the Los Zetas transnational drug cartel. From approximately 2007 through 2009, Rodriguez worked with various high level Zetas trafficking cocaine. The investigation revealed that between 2007 and 2009, Rodriguez and others smuggled a minimum of 500 kilograms of cocaine per month from Mexico into the United States, and at least 6,000 kilograms per year during this time frame. Most of this cocaine was smuggled through the Eagle Pass Port of Entry to San Antonio and then distributed to other destinations throughout the United States. Many of the same persons and vehicles used to smuggle narcotics into the United States were used to smuggle millions of dollars of drug proceeds back into Mexico as well as weapons for the Zetas. These weapons were assault type weapons which were used to control the Plazas or drug trafficking areas controlled by the Zetas.

As a result of his guilty plea to the conspiracy charge, Rodriguez faces a sentence of 35 years in federal prison if the terms of the plea agreement are approved by the Court. Sentencing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on July 24, 2015, before Chief Judge Biery.

In a separate but related matter, Rodriguez was arrested in April 2013 by the San Antonio Police Department and charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. On September 29, 2014, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute over 300 grams of pure methamphetamine. He faces between ten years and life in federal prison. Sentencing on the methamphetamine charge, which will be before U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, has yet to be scheduled.

These charges resulted from an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation conducted by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), San Antonio Police Department and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA), which is comprised of investigators from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) , Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). The U.S. Border Patrol also assisted in this investigation.

The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering operations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

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