Two convicted in drug conspiracy

March 7, 2009 4:12:26 AM PST
Two people who worked for an organization that used Mexican tour buses to transport drugs to Houston and the proceeds back to Monterrey, Mexico, have been convicted of conspiracy charges, acting U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson said Friday. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Elisa Idalia Castillo, 53, and Martin Ovalle-Martinez, 46, both Mexican nationals living in Houston, were convicted Thursday of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Ovalle-Martinez was also convicted of possessing with intent to distribute cocaine.

Between Jan. 1, 2006, and March 20, 2008, about $2.2 million and more than 1,000 kilograms of cocaine were seized from tour buses operating in Texas and Mexico, Johnson said in a news release.

The Monterrey-based organization -- which had a few legitimate passengers each trip -- would usually put the money and cocaine in a hidden compartment in the gas tank, Johnson said.

Castillo was in charge of the bus depot in Houston. Ovalle-Martinez was a bus driver.

Castillo and Ovalle-Martinez are to be sentenced May 7. Both face no less than 10 years and no more than life in prison without parole for the drug convictions. Both face up to 20 years in prison for the money laundering convictions.

Three other defendants charged in this case -- David Pacheco, 35, and Israel Torres, 35, both of Houston, and Alberto Abel Martinez, 51, of Rosenberg -- pleaded guilty before their trial to federal drug charges. Their sentencing is pending.

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