Young cartel leader gets his initial proceedings in federal court

One never knows whose path you might cross. For instance, 23-year-old Mexican national Juan Francisco Saenz- Tamez was on a leisurely shopping trip a couple of weeks ago in Edinburg, Texas, when he ran into federal agents who promptly arrested him. Saenz-Tamez wasn’t just some day shopper from across the border though. No, through supposed hard work as a Mexican version of a rags-to-riches Horatio Alger character, U.S. law enforcement agents say the Camargo, Tamaulipas, resident Saenz-Tamez heads the Gulf Cartel. The organization is allegedly one of the most violent of the Mexican drug smuggling gangs.

“Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez became the head of the Gulf Cartel following the 2013 arrest of former leader Mario Ramirez-Trevino,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart, in a press release from the U.S. Justice Department. “He moved steadily up the cartel ranks, working as a lookout, record keeper, plaza boss, and finally its leader. Thanks to the quick actions of DEA and our local partners, we were able to identify and safely arrest Saenz-Tamez while he was in the United States.  He oversaw much of the violence and bloodshed that has plagued Mexico and DEA is pleased he will face justice in the United States.”

The alleged drug kingpin found himself yesterday inside a courtroom in the Jack Brooks Federal Building and Courthouse in the town where I reside, Beaumont, Texas. The press release from Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney John Bales said Saenz-Tamez was transferred from the Rio Grande Valley to Southeast Texas to appear before U.S. Magistrate Zach Hawthorne for an initial hearing as well as for proceedings that determined he should be detained until trial.

A grand jury in September 2013 indicted Saenz-Tamez. He is charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to launder money. He faces a sentence of from 10 years to life in federal prison if convicted.

Sources said a number of federales and perhaps those from other Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies were in town to see for themselves that the wunderkind criminal leader was caught and on the first step toward a long career in federal prison.

News reports indicate the Gulf Cartel has been losing steam in recent criminal enterprises. Bales attributes that to hard work put into the investigations of the drug gang

“The news that Juan Saenz-Tamez has been arrested is further proof that justice is prevailing in Mexico,” said Bales.  “I am encouraged that the efforts of so many law enforcement officers are now paying off. Congratulations to them and I look forward to seeing Saenz-Tamez answer for his crimes in a Beaumont courtroom.”

Whether such involved operations are truly making a dent in the drug-based organized crimes that have plagued Mexico remains over time to be seen. New factors such as legalization or semi-legalization of marijuana in certain U.S. states have not operated in the open long enough to determine whether marijuana smuggling will remain viable for criminal gangs across from the southern U.S. borders. Even so, cocaine and meth aren’t facing a legal market anytime soon in the U.S. in general and specifically in Texas.

During the meantime, trials likely to take place here in Beaumont for Mexican gangs as well as those from violent white supremacy prison-based outfits cannot help but make some folks in mostly quiet Southeast Texas feel uncomfortable. Federal authorities do not release information on security during such trials which is sensible to most people whose brain is clearly functioning. One might feel more secure if the Justice Department provided snipers hiding up in the ceilings as their fellow federal lawmen and women in the Secret Service do on occasions while protecting the president. But I guess we wouldn’t know about that unless something happened.

I for one, truly, hope things remain serene here in town, Likewise, in the temple of justice where mostly good people may stand in judgement of those who are allegedly some really bad folks.