Court unveils more details on the men arrested along with Juan Roberto Rincón-Rincón as they prepare for trial
Mark Reagan | The Brownsville Herald
An alleged enforcer for a Gulf Cartel plaza boss was indicted late September, along with his boss and another high-ranking cartel member, federal court documents show.
The men who were arrested along with Juan Roberto -Rincón made an appearance in federal court Thursday morning for a procedural motion hearings in preparation of trial.
A partially unsealed indictment charges Luis Ivan Nino-Duenes, also known as “Machin” and “XW-13,” along with Jose Luis Zuñiga-Hernandez, also known as “Comandante Wicho” and “XW,” and Armando Arizmendi-Hernandez, also known as “Comandante Mando” and “XW-2,” with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to import the drugs into the United States, according to the indictment, which alleges the conspiracy began in 2002.
The indictment lists three more names that have been blacked out. The men were arrested along with Juan Roberto Rincón-Rincón, also known as “Comandante X,” on Oct. 26, 2011, after fleeing a gun battle in Rio Bravo, Mexico, where Gulf Cartel rivals were trying to kill the men because of a conflict within the transnational criminal organization, court testimony revealed.
El Wicho Spills and claims he was coerced to give information:
An article from Dec 12, 2011 about El Wicho from Valley Central:
Federal court records say a high-ranking member of the Mexican Gulf cartel was fleeing "certain death" when caught by Border Patrol agents with a gold-plated handgun, cocaine and about $20,000.
The documents filed Monday reveal that Jose Luis Zuniga-Hernandez -- also known as "Comandante Wicho" -- admitted to his role in the cartel's marijuana trafficking operations.
Zuniga also spilled important information about the cartel to federal agents in the course of four lengthy interviews.
But Zuniga's attorney argued in a motion that those interviews were coerced.
The interviews took place in October after the Border Patrol apprehended Zuniga and four other men near the Rio Grande.
Zuniga is charged with illegal re-entry to the U.S. and possession of a firearm by a felon. He has pleaded not guilty.
Nino-Duenes was sentenced to five years in prison in February after being convicted of being an alien in possession of a firearm. Specifically, Nino-Duenes was found with Zuñiga-Hernandez’s gold-plated, diamond encrusted Colt. 38 Super handgun worth $57,000 that was commissioned in Reynosa, according to trial testimony. Zuñiga-Hernandez pleaded guilty earlier this year to being an alien in possession of a firearm and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Rincón-Rincón was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year on the same charges Zuñiga-Hernandez, Nino-Duenes and Arizmendi-Hernandez are now facing.
Increased Security around the trial
Rincón-Rincón’s sentence was enhanced because he used rocket launchers, grenades, homemade cannons and automatic weapons during his drug smuggling operations, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Texas. Nino-Duenes’ sentence was also enhanced. According to the USAO, Southern District of Texas, Nino-Duenes was a member of the Gulf Cartel for three years before his arrest and worked as an enforcer for Zuñiga-Hernandez.
The federal government also presented evidence that Nino-Duenes joined the prison gang known as the Partido Revolutionario Mejicano while incarcerated and attempted to intimidate a witness.
At sentencing, Nino-Duenes argued that he didn’t join the prison gang and said federal sentencing guidelines called for less than two years in prison. However, U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle indicated the court would issue a non-guideline sentence because of the man fled from a gun battle in Mexico, which she called spillover violence. Nino-Duenes pleaded not guilty to the new charges and is being held without bail after the court ruled he was a flight risk.
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