Home San Antonio Press Releases 2013 Zeta Commander ‘Taliban’ Facing Trial in the U.S.

Zeta Commander ‘Taliban’ Facing Trial in the U.S.

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 22, 2013
  • Southern District of Texas (713) 567-9000

LAREDO, TX—Ivan Velasquez-Caballero, aka “Taliban” and “50,” has been extradited to the U.S. and made his initial appearance this morning in federal court in Laredo, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. He is set for an arraignment and detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker at 10:00 a.m. on November 27, 2013.

Velasquez-Caballero, 43, of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been in custody in Mexico since September 26, 2012, when he was arrested in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He was extradited under the treaty between the United States and Mexico and arrived in Laredo on November 21, 2013.

The charges against him stem from a February 17, 2010 superseding indictment charging the defendant and 33 others with 47 counts alleging drug conspiracy, kidnapping conspiracy, firearms conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to kidnap and murder U.S. citizens in a foreign country, use of juveniles to commit a violent crime, accessory after the fact, and solicitation, as well as substantive money laundering, drug trafficking, and interstate travel in aid of racketeering charges.

Specifically, Velasquez-Caballero is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. If convicted, he faces a maximum of life imprisonment and a $4 million fine for the drug conspiracy, as well as a $250,000 fine and up to 20 years for the money laundering conspiracy.

Of those originally charged in relation to the case, 15 have been convicted and sentenced with two receiving life sentences. In addition, four others have also been convicted in separate indictments resulting from the same investigation.

The indictment was a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Operation Prophecy conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Laredo Police Department with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations; FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Texas Department of Public Safety; U.S. Marshals Service; Webb County District Attorney’s Office; and Webb County Sheriff’s Office. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance with the extradition.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

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