Hearing set for last defendant in 2018 drug conspiracy case

McALLEN — A bond hearing has been set for a man accused in connection with a drug conspiracy that moved heroin and cocaine, records show.

Arnoldo Pruñeda is scheduled for a detention hearing Friday before U.S. Magistrate Peter E. Ormsby in connection with a drug conspiracy case involving the man and at least three others.

Pruñeda made his initial appearance before the court Tuesday and was advised of the charges against him, including one count of being part of a drug conspiracy and two counts of possession and distribution of a controlled substance, records show.

Pruñeda is the fourth and final defendant to make his initial appearance for the court in connection with the case.

The indictment against Pruñeda alleges that he, Jesus Gerardo Vela, Jennifer Herrera, a.k.a. Jennifer Cutaia, and Alejandro Herrera, conspired to move loads of drugs, including cocaine and heroin, between April 2018 and November 2018, the document shows.

Pruñeda and Vela are accused of moving 25 kilograms of cocaine and 14 kilograms of heroin during a four-day span in April 2018, the document shows.

As for Jennifer and Alejandro Herrera, they face two charges each in connection with the case, including a conspiracy charge, and one count each of possession and distribution of a controlled substance related to one instance on Oct. 3, 2018, the documents show.

The indictment alleges the Herreras, along with Vela, moved 30 and 22 kilos of cocaine on Oct. 3, 2018, and Nov. 5, 2018, respectively.

All four defendants were originally indicted in August 2019 on the drug conspiracy charges, with Jennifer and Alejandro Herrera making their respective initial appearances less than a month later on Sept. 19, 2019, in a Houston federal courtroom, court notes show.

Subsequently, Jennifer Herrera and Alejandro Herrera, who are both out of custody on a $75,000 bond, pleaded not guilty to the charges alleged in the indictment on Oct. 2, 2019; and are due back before the court for jury selection in their respective trial May 5, records show.

Vela made his initial appearance in a Houston federal courtroom Oct. 8., 2019, and subsequently pleaded not guilty to the five alleged offenses in the indictment on Oct. 30, 2019.

On Nov. 27, 2019, the court granted Vela a $200,000 bond, records show.

Like Jennifer and Alejandro Herrera, Vela is due back for the beginning of jury selection for the trial on May 5, 2020.

If convicted of the drug-related charges, Pruñeda faces up to 10 years in federal prison.