Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Armando Villareal arraigned in San Diego

Thursday, May 24, 2012 |

 El Gordo pleads not guilty

 Less then 24 hours after his extradition from Mexico, Armando 'El Gordo' Villareal plead not guilty in Federal court this morning, Magistrate Justice Nita L. Storm, presided over the hearing.  Villareal used a public defender to represent him at the proceeding, it is unknown if he will retain a paid attorney at a later date. 

Two men in their 20's, in the company of an older man, who said they were family, were the only family present at the hearing. Villareal, detained in Hermosillo, Sonora, in July 2011 was the primary defendant in Operation Luz Verde, a RICO investigation that has seen 38 convictions, out of the 43 named in the indictment.

Villareal, appeared thinner, clean shaven, quietly answered the judge, 'yes', when asked if he spoke english.  US Assistant Distrcit Attorney Todd Robinson, argued that Villareal was a threat to the community, on the subject of bail.  Villareal was ordered held, and asked to come up with some financial records, or receipts to indicate at what amount bail could potentially be set.  That hearing is set for May 31, 2012, and the next for July 2nd. 

Luz Verde targeted members of the Fernando Sanchez Organization, what authorities refer to as an offshoot of the Arellano Felix Cartel, it is in fact it's newer generation, a continuation, rather then a breakaway group.  Villareal faces charges of conspiracy, racketeering and drug trafficking, the indictment alleges he ran a crew of the defendants from Tijuana, and Guadalajara, who engaged in smuggling, retail and wholesale drug sales of crystal methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as murders, kidnappings, and robberies. 

One part of the surveillance detailed in the indictment features Villareal offering pounds of uncut methamphetamine at 10,000 a pound.  Another has him discussing the theft of methamphetamine from a bus, coming from Jalisco.  Also, requesting imitation uniforms and zip ties, as well as automatic weapons.

It was a fast turn around for Villareal, no doubt, who had been incarcerated in Veracruz, subsequent to his arrest last summer.  Early this week, he was flown to Mexico City, where US officials took him into custody, and escorted him back to the city of his birth.  This is the second high profile extradition this week of previously captured cartel lieutenants, Sergio Villareal Barragan, former Beltran Leyva upper management, was sent to Texas to face charges, earlier in the week. 

Armando Villareal began his career with the Arellano Felix when he was 16, through his cousin, onetime lieutenant to incarcerated, Javier Francisco Arellano Felix, the head of the cartel from 2002 to his arrest in 2006.  Arturo Villareal, detained with Javier Francisco on the 'Doc Holiday' of the coast of Baja, California, is the cousin of Armando Villareal, who both come from the Imperial Beach area of San Diego's South Bay communities.

 Armando attended Montgomery high school on Palm Avenue, from these rather ordinary beginnings he rose to become second in command to Fernando Sanchez, after his cousin was arrested, and Sanchez Arellano led those loyal to him, and his family, against Teodoro 'El Teo' Simental.  It is said 'El Gordo' was present at the infamous shooting at Insurgentes bridge in Tijuana, in April 2008, when gunmen clashed, leaving 16 dead. Villareal was said to have been placed in charge of the Tijuana plaza, when Sanchez Arellano left the city in October 2008, in the midst of a frenzied and bloody fight for control.

Gordo, engaged El Teo cells, in tit for tat retaliatory combat in Tijuana, narco messages, attached to bodies were both sent, and recieved to Villareal, with messages like 'These are the people of Gordo Villreal', and 'This is how we deal with the people of El Tres Letras'. 

There were rumors that Villareal, and Sanchez Arellano has problems in their relationship, when Villareal defied peace agreements made with El Teo, and engaged in kidnapping against the wishes of his boss.  It was reported that he was 'left on his own' several times. However, looking at the indictment of his Luz Verde, he seems aligned fully with the Arellano Felix.  Zeta Tijuana reported that after the indictment was unsealed, Gordo fled Tijuana, and operated independent from both CAF and Sinaloa.

It is likely that Villareal will take a plea agreement, rather then face trial, as even the last holdout from Luz Verde, Carlos Cosme, has decided to take a plea bargain, previously being the only defendant heading to a jury trial.  It is also probable Villareal will receive a 10 to 20 year sentence, if, and when he is convicted.  It is unknown if it is possible, or likely that authorities will use Villareal's testimony, or knowledge to pursue Sanchez Arellano, who has eluded custody, and indictments, thus far.

Link to 86 page 'Luz Verde' indictment:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/35652992/10MJ2489

Sources: AFN Tijuana, BB forum, AP news, UT San Diego, Zeta Tijuana

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10 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder what this guy's connections to Jorge Hank Rhon might be?

Anonymous said...

.
Thanks for the Scribd link, I have book marked it, will check it out tomorrow

Salva P.
.

Anonymous said...

I think that Gordo and El Abuelo are brothers, noth cousins. Both have the same name ''Villarreal Heredia'' that will be weird if they are brothers. Also a corrido of el Gordo says ''del 6-1 soy hermano''.

Anonymous said...

Why offer a plea deal unless the gov't has a weak case. Our gov't has a duty to prosecute violent criminals to the fullest extent possible. Cutting a deal so as to get credit for a prosecution without missing a long lunch and an early out on Friday is weak, weak, weak. Prosecuter, do your job!!

Anonymous said...

Plea deals are offered for "soplones."

J said...

No, only 5% of ALL criminal cases see a jury trial, it's expensive, time consuming, and a gamble, a serious one for both sides, but esp. the defendants. 38/43 have plead guilty, it is likely Villareal will to. A plea bargain doesn't mean the person cooperated with authorities, for lesser time, but it can. It usually just means the lawyers of teh defendant and the prosecutor reached a compromise they can live with. The case def. wasn't weak, but it's irrational, and absurd to expect to see 40 different jury trials, in light of the overwhelming defendants.

As far as brothers, I think you are right, I've heard both.

Anonymous said...

they're cousins, not brothers

Anonymous said...

El Gordo Villareal

La plaza sigue con dueño Villareal sigue ordenando, De mi gente soy el jefe del 6-1 soy HERMANO
Soy un hombre respetado en el Cartel Arellano

J said...

Carlos Cosme just plead out, to racketeering and drug offenses. Villareal is the now the last man standing, besides the 4 fugitives.

Anonymous said...

In a fed case da district attorny will offer only one deal, if rejected they got straight to jury trial, feds are not like state and feds rarely lose!

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