Driver in expressway shooting sentenced

McALLEN — A judge sentenced a Mexican man Thursday to more than 15 years in federal prison for his role in a drug-rip-turned-shooting that played out on the expressway in San Juan two years ago.

Eduardo Rodriguez-Silva, 27, told federal agents he was the driver of a Chevrolet Tahoe involved in an attempt to rob a Gulf Cartel member of marijuana that led to a shooting on the expressway, according to the criminal complaint filed against him. Rodriguez-Silva was arrested in March and pleaded guilty to the charges against him in July.

District Judge Randy Crane in May sentenced Rodriguez-Silva’s co-conspirators, Nery Gonzalez Jr., 29, and Luis Angel Gonzalez, 21, brothers from Edinburg, to more than 17 and 15 years in prison, respectively.

Meanwhile, Crane sentenced Arturo Guadalupe Saldivar-Abrego, 30, and Eliezer Jesus Vela, 39, both of Pharr, in March after they each pleaded guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge. They received sentences of eight years and four years in federal prison, respectively, according to court records.

The punishments handed down are all related to an Oct. 9, 2015, incident when the Gonzalez brothers, who were working for the Gulf Cartel at the time, attempted to steal, with the help of their co-defendants, several bundles of marijuana from another man, a fellow Gulf Cartel member, court records show.

On that October day police began chasing the five men, who were inside a Chevy Tahoe, just before 1 p.m. on the Expressway near Raul Longoria Road and westbound Frontage Road following a report of shots fired, according to the criminal complaint.

Officers responding came upon a disabled blue Ford Expedition on the Expressway riddled with multiple bullet holes. Police said the driver of that vehicle fled the scene but left several bundles of marijuana inside the SUV.

Moments later, officers gave chase to a gold Chevrolet Tahoe, which officials later determined was occupied by the Gonzalez brothers, Saldivar, Vela, and Rodriguez-Silva, the driver, which was seen driving away from the blue Expedition to an area north of Donna.

Witnesses said men from the Tahoe shot at the man in the Expedition in an effort to get him to stop.

Later that night, after losing the suspects, they detained and arrested one man, later identified as Saldivar, after authorities discovered him hiding in a nearby sugarcane field.

Saldivar told federal agents that he and several other men got into the Tahoe and left to an unknown location to pick up weapons, including a handgun and an AK-47 assault rifle, which would be used to intercept the Expedition carrying bundles of marijuana, records state.

The group located the Expedition near the intersection of Expressway 83 and Farm-to-Market Road 1015. Saldivar said Rodriguez-Silva rammed the Tahoe into the Expedition while the other men in the vehicle shot at the Expedition in an attempt to pull them over, according to the criminal complaint.