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Laredo: Trial begins for pair accused in Zeta murder-for-hire scheme

Posted on

March 25, 2014

Borderland BeatThe murder trial of two men alleged to be operating on behalf of the Zeta drug cartel began this morning in the 49th District Court.Nicolas Reyes-Sanchez (above left) and Jose Roberto Obregon (above right) are accused of the Sept. 14, 2010 death of Fidencio Rios-Cardenas, 31, who was shot to death with a .9mm handgun outside his home on the 300 block of El Monte Loop in the north side of town.

The pair was arrested Nov. 9, 2011, and charged with capital murder and engaging in organized criminal activity, both first-degree felonies.It is alleged that both were part of a group of six men who allegedly carried out a string of homicides for Los Zetas. Pablo “Panda” Cerda, 37, Rogelio Tijerina, 27, Antonio Cerda Jr., 41, and Rene Cruz III, 23, were also indicted in 2012 in connection with the killings.

The prosecution called 13 witnesses to the stand, including Laredo police officers, investigators and the custodian of records.The officers testified about securing the crime scene, conducting interviews and recovering evidence the night of the incident and the days following. Two other witnesses who took the stand told jurorsof hearing gunshots the night of the incident.Obregon pleaded guilty in February, 2013 for a Zetas weapons trafficking operation. Below is the DEA press release for that incident:Last of Los Zetas Arms Traffickers ConvictedFEB 20 (LAREDO, Texas) – Jose Roberto Obregon, 29, of Laredo, has entered a plea of guilty for his role in a conspiracy to export weapons to Mexico destined for Los Zetas Drug Trafficking Organization, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña and United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.Obregon, aka Minutitos, was set for trial next week, but at a status hearing in court today before U.S. District Court Judge Diana Saldana, he instead opted to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to export arms in violation of the Export Controls Act. The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation revealed that a Laredo based co-defendant associated with Los Zetas needed someone to transport weapons from the Dallas area to Laredo and then to the Republic of Mexico for ultimate delivery to Los Zetas Drug Trafficking Organization. Otilo and Ranferi Osorio were identified as co-conspirators in the Dallas area who were to deliver the weapons to other co-conspirators for transportation to Laredo. Co-defendants Pablo Cerda, 36, Nicolas Sanchez-Reyes, aka “Nico”, 50, and Obregon, operated out of the Laredo area and were tasked with receiving the shipment of weapons in Laredo and arranging for their transportation to Mexico.On Nov. 9, 2010, agents set up surveillance at the parking lot area of a Wal-Mart located near I-35 in Lancaster, at which time agents observed a tractor trailer driver meet with Ranferi and Otilio Osorio who arrived in a Ford Explorer. Two large duffel bags believed to contain weapons were removed from the Explorer and placed inside the tractor. Agents then the tractor-trailer. Obregon, Sanchez-Reyes and Cerda then coordinated the receipt of the weapons for ultimate transportation to Nuevo Laredo. Between Nov. 9 and 10, the men called each other regarding the logistics of the shipment and coordinated the delivery of the weapons in Laredo to another driver secured by Cerda who would transport the weapons to Mexico.
On Nov. 9, Webb County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a traffic stop in Laredo of tractor trailer transporting the weapons. At that time, Sanchez-Reyes called the driver’s phone and a deputy answered the call. Unaware of the situation, Sanchez-Reyes said he was looking for the driver who was supposed to bring him something, at which time the deputy informed the driver could not talk. After the stop, deputies located the two duffle bags and found 40 high-powered firearms consisting of various makes, models and calibers as well as 39 empty magazines. Agents then discovered that 37 of the 40 firearms recovered had obliterated serial numbers. The driver was arrested at the scene.Co-defendants Otilo and Ranferi Osorio were indicted in Dallas and have since pleaded guilty and sentenced. Earlier this year, Cerda and Sanchez-Reyes entered their pleas of guilty to the charge of conspiracy to export arms. Cerda, Sanchez-Reyes and Obregon are in custody and will remain in custody until their sentencing which has been set for March 27, 2013. The three are also pending State Charges for capital murder and engaging in organized criminal activity in the 49th District Court of Webb County before State District Court Judge Joe Lopez.



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Spreading the word about the dangers of methamphetamine.

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