EL PASO, Texas - Federal agents arrested three members of the "Torres Drug Trafficking Organization" last Friday and charged them with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine.
The announcement was made Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge, Waldemar Rodriguez.
A federal complaint filed Monday charges Jose Guadalupe Torres-Magana, 55; Patricia Torres, 56; and Alfonso Govea, 32, with conspiracy to possess approximately 8.2 kilograms of cocaine.
"The arrests of have effectively dismantled a large scale smuggling organization responsible for staging and transporting large amounts of cocaine from El Paso to Chicago," Rodriguez said.
All three defendants remain in federal custody, pending a detention hearing on Thursday.
According to the criminal complaint obtained by the ABC-7 I-Team, Homeland Security Investigations was able to infiltrate the Torres Drug Smuggling Organization with the help of an undercover agent.
On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, the undercover agent spoke with a member of the Torres DSO looking for a long haul truck to transport cocaine from El Paso to Chicago. Six days later, the same alleged Torres DSO member told the undercover agents to owners of the cocaine wanted to "further discuss the transportation transaction."
The complaint affidavit states the undercover agent agreed to meet in person with Torres and Torres-Magana at the Starbucks located at 6094 Montana. At the meeting, Torres-Magana allegedly told the undercover agent they would pay $1,000 per kilogram of cocaine transported to Chicago. The document states Torres-Magana improved the offer to $1,300 per kilogram of cocaine if the agent agreed to transport the drug to Chicago and transport money back to El Paso.
The undercover agent agreed, but requested a deposit on transportation fees. Torres allegedly mentioned a deposit would be deducted from driver fees, said they needed to trust each other, and advised a deposit was not needed because they were trusting the driver with their merchandise.
Torres-Magana allegedly told the agent he would need the agent to transport cocaine to Chicago every 15 days.
On Monday, November 21, 2016, the undercover agent spoke with Torres-Magana on the phone. Torres-Magana told the agent he wanted to introduce him to Govea, his son. A complaint affidavit states Govea is the owner of the Pint and Peanut Public House located at 518 West San Antonio Avenue. Torres is listed as the business' corporation officer.
During the phone conversation, Torres-Magana allegedly told the agent they "would be ready for the party with six bottles." Investigators said the "six bottles" were code for six kilograms of cocaine, the criminal complaint states.
On Wednesday, November 23, 2016, the undercover agent met with Torres, Torres-Magana, and Govea at Bassett Place Mall. While there, the group allegedly discussed the pickup location. Torres and Torres-Magana allegedly disregarded the agent's suggestion it be in a public parking lot, saying there are "too many cameras" and said Govea would pick a location at a later date. Torres-Magana allegedly suggested the undercover agent attend at party at the Pint and Peanut Public House to get better acquainted with Govea.
On November 28, 2016, the undercover agent once again met Govea at Bassett Place Mall, where Govea was allegedly observed removing a white box from his vehicle and placing the box in the back seat of the agent's vehicle. The court document further states Govea was seen entering the undercover agent's vehicle. Later, special agents allegedly found six bundles containing a total of 8.2 kilograms of cocaine inside the white box. The agents in El Paso worked with their counterparts in Chicago to device a plan to drop off the cocaine with the Torres DSO associates in Chicago.
On November 29, 2016, the undercover agent met with Torres and Torres-Magana at 1700 N. Zaragoza Rd, where Torres-Magana allegedly gave the agent $1,000 as a transportation fee deposit, the document states. During that meeting, Torres-Magana allegedly told the agent he would be working with large quantities of cocaine, between 30 and 40 kilograms. Torres-Magana allegedly told the agent he would prefer to have two truck drivers transporting in between 10 and 12 kilograms each, per trip.
On December 1, 2016, special agents attempted to deliver 8.2 kilograms of cocaine to co-conspirators at a Dunkin Donuts in Melrose Park, Illinois. The delivery did not occur, the complaint affidavit states. Torres allegedly advised the undercover agent to leave the cocaine with one of her associates in Chicago. Torres and Torres-Magana allegedly planed to travel to Chicago to arrange the delivery.
On December 5, 2016, the undercover agent met with Govea at the Starbucks on Montana, where Govea allegedly provided the agent with $5,000, the remaining balance on transportation fees, the document states. Federal agents said, that at almost the same time, the delivery of the cocaine in Chicago was taking place.
Undercover HSI special agents in Chicago allegedly delivered the 8.2 kilograms of cocaine to Alejandro Omar Cuevas-Medina and Torres at a McDonald's in Aurora, Illinois. Cuevas-Medina was allegedly pulled over by Aurora police officers for failing to use to use a turn signal. During a search of the vehicle, officers allegedly recovered the 8.2 kilograms of cocaine.
The complaint affidavit states the undercover agent has since received death and kidnapping threats from Torres, Torres-Magana and a man from Guadalajara, Mexico - the alleged owner of the 8.2 kilograms of cocaine seized in Aurora.
On December 13, 2016, the undercover agent allegedly spoke on the phone with the man from Guadalajara. The agent was told the cocaine never made it to Chicago and the agent replied he did not steal the cocaine. The Mexican man on the phone allegedly told the agent to calm down or else he and his family were "going to pay for it." The Mexican man allegedly told the agent his organization had enough firepower to kill the agent and his family and warned him he was not safe in the United States. The Mexican man allegedly told the agent that if the issue was not resolved by soon, he was going to start killing people.
Agents arrested Torres and Torres-Magana at a Valero Convenience Store in Socorro, Texas on Friday, December 16, 2016. Govea was arrested later that day in East El Paso.