McALLEN — An Hidalgo man with deep ties to the Gulf Cartel has been sentenced to life in prison following his conviction on drug conspiracy and money laundering charges.
Wednesday morning, 38-year-old Daniel “El Comandante” Nuñez went before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, who handed down the stiff sentence, noting that the conspiracy led by Nuñez was a significant conspiracy that had been active for a long time, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office shows.
Nuñez was part of the criminal organization that arranged the crossing of drugs — from Mexico across the Rio Grande through the Military Highway area — which were then moved to stash houses in Edinburg and Hargill. The drugs were then moved to Dallas or other major cities, like Panama City; Orlando, Florida; and Steele, Alabama.
Nuñez is one of 24 defendants indicted in the case, in which the identities of five defendants remain sealed pending their arrest. The rest have either pleaded guilty or been convicted. Authorities arrested Nuñez in February 2012, and he pleaded guilty in November 2012 to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms – roughly 2,200 pounds, as well as one count of a money laundering conspiracy.
While court records don’t identify Nuñez as a Gulf Cartel member, his exploits are mentioned in a series of corridos — Mexican folk ballads — such as “El Reinoceronte M-50”, “El Comandante y su Gente” and others that discuss teams of Gulf Cartel hit men.
The case against Nuñez and his organization was investigated by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.
The HSI investigation, which worked in collaboration with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, “dealt a major blow to the Nunez Drug Trafficking Organization, sentencing Nunez to life in prison,” said Special Agent in Charge, Janice Ayala, HSI San Antonio. “HSI is committed to making our communities safer by conducting joint robust investigations with the federal partners and other law enforcement partners, in achieving that goal”