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Saturday, September 24, 2022
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Smuggling Coordinator for Major Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced


Image of seized marijuana by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service / NARA & DVIDS Public Domain Archive

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On February 23, Victor Gerardo Villegas, 34, from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his participation in a large-scale marijuana conspiracy.

According to a news release from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Villegas was an important member of Gente Nueva de Durango Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) from 2013 until his arrest in June of 2019.

Gente Nueva de Durango was established in 1995 as part of the Sinaloa Cartel, which warred with the Juarez Cartel and La Linea over smuggling routes to the United States.

The DTO works south of the Lower Valley of El Paso County, smuggling humans and drugs through the Valle de Juarez. They have many members throughout El Paso.

The organization operated via non-U.S. citizens carrying backpacks — each containing around 50 pounds of marijuana — across the border and dispersing it from El Paso to Oklahoma City.

Villegas was the smuggling coordinator for Gente Nueva de Durango, in charge of overseeing the operation as the drugs traveled through the Valle de Juarez to ensure they reached destination cities after arriving in El Paso, as well as sending the money made from transactions back to Ciudad Juarez.

Villegas also directed El Paso-area members of the DTO to locate a minimum of two residences and rent them out as a storage facilities for the marijuana.

On September 10, 2021, Villegas was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to possess over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute, according to the DOJ.

The DOJ additionally listed other members of Gente Nueva de Durango that have been sentenced due to their role in the organization.

Ernesto Daniel Rubio-Cervantes, 29, from Fabens, Texas, was sentenced to 72 months in prison. Rudy Cruz Fierro, also 29 and from Fabens, was sentenced to 102 months.

Jesus Dominquez, 33, from Tornillo, Texas, was sentenced to 63 months in prison. Santiago De Leon-Zavala, 25, also from Tornillo, was sentenced to 72 months.

Marcos Andrade-Luna, 54, from Sonora, Mexico, was sentenced to 88 months in prison. Isac Gamez-Ruiz, 47, also from Sonora, was sentenced to 51 months.

According to a report from the American Post on February 7, Mario Núñez Meza, also known as “El M10,” operated as lieutenant of the Sinaloa Cartel in Juarez, which is directly affiliated with the Gente Nueva de Durango DTO. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his involvement in the murder of 350 individuals in Durango.

Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for the El Paso Division Greg Millard stated, “Drug trafficking organizations don’t just traffic in drugs, as this case highlights,” referencing human and weapon trafficking.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey commented, “As a result of our collective efforts, members of this criminal organization will no longer plague our communities in West Texas and across the nation with their brazen acts of violence, drug trafficking, and human smuggling.”

The DEA’s El Paso Division, the FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted the investigation of the Gente Nueva de Durango DTO.       

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