ICE auctions convicted drug dealers homes for nearly $300,000

EL PASO, Texas – Two local real estate properties that once belonged to high-ranking members of the Marquez marijuana-trafficking organization were auctioned Thursday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE seized the properties after a two-year investigation into the Marquez drug trafficking network, the Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, cell of the Chapo Guzman drug cartel.

The 1,500-sq.-ft. home in the 12000 block of Sterling Mary Way appraised at $153,332 and sold for $128,000. The 2,700 sq. ft. home in the 11500 block of Lake Tana Drive appraised at $215,335 and sold for $166,000. Proceeds from sale of the properties go to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The ICE investigation revealed that the members of the drug-trafficking organization used both homes to carry out drug distribution activities. Federal law allows ICE to seize properties that have been derived from proceeds directly related to crimes such as drug trafficking. "ICE takes a comprehensive approach when dismantling criminal organizations," said Roberto G. Medina, special agent in charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in El Paso. "The most effective way to shut down a narcotics conspiracy is to take drug dealers’ products, profits and assets."

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) worked with ICE in the investigation that revealed this organization was responsible for importing and distributing to the upper Midwest, East and Northeastern United States more than 48,000 kilograms (53 tons) of marijuana, 4 kilograms (9 lbs.) of ecstasy and 240 kilograms (528 lbs.) of cocaine between 2003 and 2005.

In 2005, 12 members of the Mario Marquez organization were named in a 13-count indictment charging them with conspiracy to possess a controlled substance, conspiracy to import, conspiracy to launder money, and conspiracy to kill a U.S. citizen in a foreign country. They have all been sentenced and are serving time in federal prison. U.S. District Judge David Briones also awarded a personal money judgment of nearly $3 million to the federal government in the case.

Mario Alonso Marquez-Ramos, the head of the organization, Daniel Martinez, Esaul Guerrero and Christina Quintero-Villalobos are fugitives in this case. ICE special agents are working with their law enforcement partners on both sides of the border to locate and arrest them. Anyone with information about their whereabouts should call ICE’s toll-free tip line, 1-866-347-2423.

Members of the criminal enterprise were also linked to the murder of a U.S. citizen in Mexico. Hector Marquez-Ramos, brother of ringleader Mario Alonso Marquez-Ramos, was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit murder.

Evidence presented during a jury trial revealed that Hector Marquez-Ramos intentionally conspired with several other members of the Marquez drug organization to kill Maria Elidia Liuzza by choking and beating her to death in February 2005 in Ciudad Juarez. Her body has not been found. Courtroom testimony also revealed that Liuzza’s death occurred in a house allegedly owned by the Marquez organization in Ciudad Juarez. Liuzza’s son was a money courier for the Marquez organization. In February 2005, law enforcement authorities in Mexico executed search warrants at that residence as well as a second residence, dubbed the "narcocastillo," or drug castle, where they seized more than 5 tons of marijuana and a drug ledger.

ICE plans to auction another property at noon on Nov. 1 in Alto, N.M. The property is located at 192 Crown Ridge Road. More details about this and other upcoming auctions are available at http://www.treas.gov/auctions/treasury/rp.
SOURCE: ICE

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