SAN ANTONIO - Eight individuals were recently arrested on federal drug trafficking charges, including a 41-year-old man who previously received a pardon from President Barack Obama.
Texas Syndicate Lieutenant Hilario Nieto, aka “Shorty” of San Antonio, had been pardoned in 2016. “It is truly appalling that a man who was given a Presidential pardon for his past offenses and released from federal prison chose to flout that generous gift after being released from federal prison and resume gang-related drug dealing in the San Antonio community,” said U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer.
According to the Department of Justice, an eight-count federal indictment charges Nieto and the other defendants with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin.
Nieto was arrested on Tuesday, Dec 8 along with Daniel Castaneda, 31, of San Antonio; Joe Sanchez, 29, of San Antonio; Melissa Molina, 40, of San Antonio; Deanna Diaz, 31, of San Antonio; Texas Mexican Mafia member Martin Reynosa, 56 of San Antonio; and Maria Rivas, 58, of San Antonio. Texas Syndicate Lieutenant Danny Rivas aka “Pelon,” “Klumzee”, 41, of San Antonio, was previously arrested on this indictment.
In addition to the federal indictment charges, Danny Rivas is charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Castaneda and Molina are also charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Reynosa and Maria Rivas are also charged with five counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt, according to the Department of Justice.
The indictment alleges that the defendants have conspired since June 2019 to distribute methamphetamine and heroin in the San Antonio area. Search warrants executed in conjunction with arrest warrants resulted in the seizure of methamphetamine, heroin, and two firearms, according to the Department of Justice.
In 2004, Nieto was sentenced to 248 months in federal prison on drug charges in the Western District of Texas. Scheduled to be released in 2021, Nieto was pardoned by President Barack Obama in 2016.
The pardon was effective August 2018.
“With these arrests, DEA and its federal, state and local law enforcement partners have dismantled an organization responsible for supplying large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin to communities in the San Antonio region,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple. “Methamphetamine and heroin trafficking, along with the associated crimes, are particularly destructive to the quality of life in our communities. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to target and eliminate these criminal organizations and hold them accountable for the destruction they cause.”
Upon conviction of the methamphetamine-related charges, the defendants face between 10 years and life in federal prison. Upon conviction of the heroin-related charges, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison.
All of the defendants remain in federal custody.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt, according to the Department of Justice. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.