By Jim Kouri
Pedro Navarro Jr., of Zapata, Texas, pleaded guilty Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Guillermo Garcia to his roles in distributing marijuana and methamphetamine and then laundering proceeds from those drug sales.
The 36-year old Navarro is the leader of a drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating out of the Zapata, Texas, area from approximately June 2006 through June 2011.
During his plea hearing Thursday, Navarro admitted that between February 2008 and June 2011, he was responsible for transporting numerous shipments of controlled substances from the Zapata area to other parts of Texas and beyond.
Some of these drug shipments were interdicted by law enforcement, including numerous loads of marijuana totaling thousands of kilograms and approximately five kilograms of methamphetamine which was seized in Beasley, Texas, on April 5, 2011.
During his plea hearing, Navarro also confessed to being a member and leader of the drug trafficking conspiracy responsible for these marijuana and methamphetamine loads. In addition to being responsible for transporting drugs, he also admitted he used a residence on Falcon Lake to store the marijuana after it had been smuggled from Mexico into the United States.
This marijuana would normally be ferried across the lake from Mexico at night in small boats, which would pull up to his residence on the lake where individuals would then unload the marijuana. Later, Navarro would then ensure the marijuana was loaded into passenger vehicles at the residence which would be driven to wherever the drugs were destined
Navarro also admitted that he conspired with others to launder money, which represented the proceeds of his drug trafficking. He agreed to transport large amounts of United States currency, which were the proceeds of drug trafficking, from the Zapata area to Mexico, and did so with the intention of promoting the continued operation of his drug trafficking business.
Navarro specifically agreed to help transport this money to Mexico, where it would be given to other members of the drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies.
These persons provided the drugs which were being trafficked as well as provided them the money in question, thereby ensuring their illegal drug trafficking business would continue in operation. One of the specific loads of money for which Navarro was responsible included approximately $23,425 seized at or near Hebbronville, Texas, on March 9, 2010.
Navarro also used some of the proceeds he made from drug trafficking to build a residence in Zapata. During the course of the drug trafficking conspiracy, the members of conspiracy were responsible for generating proceeds from that activity in the amount of at least $18 million.
Navarro’s sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.