McALLEN — Three more defendants accused of playing roles in a large drug conspiracy that involved methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana pleaded guilty to separate charges earlier this week.
Heather Segura, 35, of La Feria; Elizabeth Lopez-Perez, 31, of Edinburg; and Raul Villegas-Villanueva each pleaded guilty to different charges before U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa, court records show.
The defendants are accused of working with a drug trafficking organization to store, transport and distribute narcotics throughout Texas and beyond.
In a news release sent out in late 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced bringing down the operation dubbed “Operation Yayo.”
“The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Operation Yayo Express, targeted Gulf Cartel infrastructure and transportation cells operating in South Texas and the distribution of multiple drugs throughout the United States and returning proceeds to Mexico,” the release stated.
Lopez-Perez in April told the court she did not know cocaine was being stored at her residence in Edinburg, causing Hinojosa to not accept the guilty plea she had entered moments before.
On Tuesday, Lopez-Perez pleaded guilty to purchasing real estate property using funds from money derived from the sale of illegal drugs, court records show.
Villegas-Villanueva was also present for the April hearing with other defendants, telling the court he was ready for trial during that hearing. But Hinojosa asked him about a letter he penned to the court requesting a new attorney.
Villegas-Villanueva sent a letter in late March that stated that he wished to move forward without his then-lawyer, Adolfo “Al” Alvarez.
Hinojosa subsequently assigned Villegas-Villanueva an attorney with the public defender’s office. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than five kilos of cocaine, court records show.
Court records also show that Segura pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine.
In March, eight defendants pleaded guilty to charges in the indictment: Guillermo “Don Gio” Morales, 55, of Edinburg; Jesus Remedios-Manqueros, 41, of Dallas; Anthony Ray Sanchez, 20, also of Dallas; Amairani “Lizeth” Flores, 24, of Donna; Oscar “Flaco” Tanguma Jr., 31, of Edcouch; Andrew Martinez, 39, of La Feria; Efrain Dimas-Lopez, 47, of Edinburg; and Samuel Jesus Olivo, 45, also of Donna.
In April, Eric Alan Torres-Davila, 31, of Edinburg; David Martinez Jr., 43, of Mercedes; Efrain Robledo, 27, of Pharr; and Hector Hernandez-Cardenas, 53, of San Juan, each pleaded guilty to one count of a 10-count indictment. Specifically, they admitted to conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine, meth and marijuana over the course of three years, beginning in February 2013 until about Nov. 1, 2016, according to the partially sealed indictment.
Oleomar “Omar” Montalvo Jr., 39, of Corpus Christi and Eric Mixtli Caceres-Coleman, 29, of Dallas, also each pleaded guilty in April, but they pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing and conspired to move more than 900 pounds of marijuana.
Court records show that Morales, Torres-Davila, Martinez, Robledo, Montalvo, Jr, Remedios-Manqueros, Sanchez, Caceres-Coleman, Flores, Hernandez-Cardenas, Tanguma Jr., Martinez, Dimas-Lopez and Olivo are all scheduled for sentencing Sept. 27.
Segura, Lopez-Perez and Villegas-Villanueva are set for sentencing in September as well.
Counsel for Norberto Cantu, Elmer Macario-Ramos, 43, of Weslaco; Armando Tanguma 30, of Edcouch, filed motions for continuance, and their hearings were rescheduled.