In San Antonio on Wednesday, a federal jury convicted 45–year-old Reymundo Villarreal-Arelis (aka “Mundo”) of Mission, TX, for his role in a drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy occurring in South Texas, Central Texas and Oklahoma.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., Western District of Texas; DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division Acting United States Attorney Abe Martinez, Southern District of Texas; and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge William Cotter, San Antonio Division.
Jurors convicted Villarreal-Arelis on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Jurors found that Villarreal-Arelis and others, including 12 relatives, conspired to:
- Engage in financial transactions using proceeds derived from the importation, receiving, concealment, buying, and/or selling cocaine; and
- Transport or transmit monetary instruments to locations outside of the United States in an effort to conceal the source, ownership and control of proceeds derived from unlawful activity.
Evidence presented at trial revealed that the defendant was a member of a significant Rio Grande Valley cocaine trafficking family known as “Los Piojos” led by brothers Gilberto Villarreal-Arelis, Reymundo Villarreal-Arelis, and Juan Villarreal-Arelis (aka ”Juando”) along with their nephew, Jose Luis Villarreal-Gonzalez (aka “Nune”).
Since 2000, this organization was responsible for the importation and distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine supplied by the Gulf Cartel and subsequently, by Los Zetas.
This organization maintained control over smuggling routes stretching from Guatemala to Diaz Ordaz, Mexico, across from McAllen, Texas.
(Member of Family-Run Drug Ring ‘Los Piojos’ Convicted. Courtesy of KRGV and YouTube)
Cocaine was smuggled into and kept in stash houses in McAllen before being transported to San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Florida.
Testimony during trial revealed that cocaine sales generated millions of dollars for this organization, some of which was used to purchase more than 50 quarter horses.
The defendants used the horse racing industry as one money laundering mechanism for their illegal proceeds.
During this investigation, authorities seized 280 kilograms of cocaine and between $15-20 million in assets attributed to the criminal activity of the defendants including cash in various bank accounts, quarter horses, the Riverside Plaza shopping center in Mission, numerous residences and other real estate properties.
In addition to today’s verdict, this investigation resulted in 14 individuals and two companies pleading guilty to federal charges prior to jury selection. All are awaiting sentencing.
Defendant Gilberto Villarreal-Arelis (aka “Beto”, “Betito”) remains a fugitive.
“Today’s verdict and previous guilty pleas are a testament to the tenacity of IRS-Criminal Investigation special agents when it comes to using their exceptional financial skills to help bring down drug cartels,” said IRS-CI San Antonio Field Office Special Agent in Charge William Cotter.
“We’re proud to be a member of a resolute law enforcement effort that strives to dismantle drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.”
This investigation was conducted by the IRS-Criminal Investigation Waco Treasury Task Force comprised of IRS-CI, Irving Police Department, Woodway Public Safety Department and the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office together with the DEA’s McAllen, San Antonio and Houston field offices, Homeland Security Investigations, and the United States Marshals Service.