Kidnapping over alleged drug debt leads to 13 cocaine trafficking arrests

An investigation into a Gulf Cartel-linked kidnapping last October has resulted in the arrests of more than a dozen people on cocaine trafficking charges.

On Wednesday and Thursday, federal authorities arrested 13 people after a grand jury issued a sealed indictment last year accusing the individuals of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Geovanny Garcia-Quevedo, Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Alejandro Enrique George-Boza, Jose Joel Quevedo-Bouzamayor, Edgar Fuentes-Fuentes, Laureano Javier Roldan-Quevedo, Ulises Marino, Yetmis Martinez-Pujol, Jesus M. Mesa, Yoanny Ochoa-Labacena, Jorge Mendez Chavez, Jerman Loera and David Gonzalez all made first appearances in federal court late this week and are being temporarily held without bond, records show.

The investigation, however, began long before this week’s arrests.

On Oct. 2, 2019, the Texas Department of Public Safety conducted a traffic stop on a tractor-trailer operating on a public roadway by an individual identified as D.G. in a redacted criminal complaint and in the partially sealed indictment.

“As a result of the stop, 30 bundles suspected to contain cocaine were seized from the tractor-trailer D.G. was driving. Pending futher investigation, D.G. was released by the DPS Trooper,” the document states.

This complaint charges Oscar Serafin Ibarra with two counts of kidnapping, as does the indictment.

A little more than two week’s later, an individual called Mission police to report that an individual identified as J.L. was missing, authorities say.

According to this individual, J.L. had been with a co-worker and hadn’t been heard from since and hadn’t answered their phone, which was tracked to a residence in rural Edinburg, the complaint states.

The day after this missing persons report, another individual called Mission police to report that D.G. had not been heard from or seen since Oct. 14, 2019.

Ten days later, J.L. called from Mexico to say that they and D.G. had been kidnapped and were in Mexico and the kidnappers were demanding $800,000 for J.L.’s release, according to the criminal complaint.

On Oct. 28, 2019, the FBI arrived at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office to interview a man named Gerardo Ruiz, who said he and Ibarra received instructions from an individual who was in Mexico who was part of the Gulf Cartel to meet J.L. and D.G. at a ranch in rural Edinburg, the charging document states.

Both J.L. and D.G.’s families were threatened with death by an unidentified individual if they did not comply and show up to the ranch, court documents indicate.

J.L. and D.G. complied and arrived at the ranch on Oct. 14, 2019, and were immediately bound with zip-ties, authorities say, adding that Ibarra and Ruiz brandished firearms and one of the men cycled the action of the firearm, ejecting live rounds onto the floor, the complaint states.

That same day, Ruiz and Ibarra informed J.L. and D.G. that they would be taken to Mexico, according to authorities.

On Oct. 15, 2019, an unidentified individual rode in a car with Ruiz and Ibarra to the Donna port of entry followed by Ruiz and Ibarra in another vehicle and D.G. and J.L. crossed into Mexico with the unidentified individual while Ruiz and Ibarra remained in the United States, the charging document states.

After his arrest, Ruiz told investigators he believed D.G. and J.L. were taken to Mexico to answer for a drug debt, according to authorities.

“While in Mexico, J.L. and D.G. were handed over to unidentified subjects. The unidentified subjects informed J.L. and D.G. that they had been brought to Mexico because of 100 kilograms of cocaine that were lost,” the criminal complaint states. “The unidentified subjects demanded a ransom be paid in order to release J.L. and D.G. J.L. and D.G. were handcuffed and beaten with boards during their captivity. J.L. and D.G. made multiple ransom calls to family members at the direction of their captors for the amounts of $800,000 and $300,000, respectively.”

After about two weeks of capitvity, J.L. and D.G. were released on Oct. 30, 2019, and were able to cross back into the United States.

The indictment against all 15 individuals is also seeking the forfieture of a 2014 Mercedes Benz, a 2013 Dodge Ram, 10 trailers, including four freightliner trucks, two Great Dane trailers and four utility trailers, as well as property in rural Edinburg.

Both Ruiz and Ibarra are scheduled for trial in early October while the remaining 13 suspects are scheduled for probable cause and detention hearings in the near future.