Mexican Drug Cartel Members Sentenced for Narcotics Trafficking in East Texas, Agree to Forfeit Millions in Illicit Drug Proceeds

Sentences Part of “Operation Dirty Bird” Anti-Drug and Money Laundering Investigation

TEXARKANA, Texas – Three East Texans have been sentenced to prison for an international drug trafficking operation in the Eastern District of Texas pursuant to Operation Dirty Bird, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.

“Mexican drug cartels are not welcome in East Texas,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “My office—in partnership with the phenomenal men and women of the Texas law enforcement community—will work tirelessly to dismantle any drug trafficking operations based in East Texas, or even those that happen to be passing through.”

Rodolfo Javier Falcon, a 36-year-old Camp County, Texas, man, was sentenced to thirty years in prison by U.S. District Judge Robert W. Schroeder III. Falcon pleaded guilty on August 20, 2020, to conspiring to distribute controlled substances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline M. Craven.  Falcon agreed to forfeit $5 million in drug proceeds.

Eleazar Martinez Reyes, a 41-year-old Camp County, Texas, man, was sentenced to 87 months in prison by Judge Schroeder.  Reyes pleaded guilty on August 4, 2020, to conspiring to distribute controlled substances and to illegal re-entry following removal before Judge Craven. Reyes agreed to forfeit $150,000 in drug proceeds.

Gerardo Carbrera Ramirez, a 28-year-old Franklin County, Texas, man, was sentenced to 151 months in prison by Judge Schroeder.  Ramirez pleaded guilty on June 11, 2020, to conspiring to distribute controlled substances before Judge Craven. Ramirez agreed to forfeit $7500 in drug proceeds.

According to information presented in court, Falcon, Reyes, Ramirez, Jose Armando Rosales-Bernal, Julio Villarreal, Armando Moreno Jr., Claudia Claribel Gardea, Jose Geraldo Ornelas-Pineda, David Martinez, and others conspired to distribute more than 150 kilograms of cocaine, along with methamphetamine and heroin, from the Jalisco Nueva Generacion drug cartel in Mexico.  The group distributed drugs in Dallas, East Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arkansas, Illinois, and Michigan.  On one occasion, Falcon, Gardea, and Ornelas-Pineda—and two young children—were stopped in Tennessee carrying nine kilograms of cocaine from Rosales-Bernal to North Carolina.  The organization was also responsible for shipping drug proceeds, in the form of bulk cash, back to Mexico. Law enforcement intercepted one bulk cash shipment of approximately $350,000.  Rosales-Bernal and Falcon both occupied leadership roles in the drug trafficking organization. During the conspiracy, Rosales-Bernal, Falcon, Martinez, and others possessed and carried firearms to safeguard their drugs and cash.  Rosales-Bernal and others spent their drug proceeds on lavish lifestyle items, including a Dodge Charger Hellcat, flashy watches, exotic weapons, a jewel encrusted rooster necklace, and numerous pairs of luxury shoes and boots.

Operation Dirty Bird is a long-term drug trafficking and money laundering investigation that has led to the seizure of more than $500,000 in U.S. Currency, almost 40 kilograms of cocaine, more than a quarter kilogram of methamphetamine, nine firearms, several vehicles, two houses in Dallas, and an array of fine jewelry.

Rosales-Bernal, Villarreal, Moreno, Falcon, Ramirez, Gardea, Ornelas-Pineda, Dalia Janet Campos Rosales, Reyes, and Martinez were previously charged and arrested as a result of this investigation. Ornelas-Pineda, Moreno, and Villarreal have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. Rosales-Bernal, Gardea, and Campos Rosales have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Martinez has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. This case is pending in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas.  If convicted, Martinez face a minimum of 15 years and as much as life in federal prison.

This case is being investigated by the Mount Pleasant office of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Criminal Investigation Division and the Dallas office of Homeland Security Investigations.  In addition, the following agencies have played critical roles in this investigation: the Mesquite, Texas, Police Department SWAT team; the Texas National Guard; the Texas Department of Public Safety, Highway Patrol Division and Aircraft Division; the George West, Texas, Police Department; the 23rd Judicial Drug Task Force in Dickson, Tennessee; and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan R. Hornok.

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