McAllen man sentenced on drug, money laundering charges

A federal District Judge sentenced a McAllen man to 10 years in prison for his role in a drug and money laundering conspiracy.

Bryan Sylvester Mendoza was the last of five people to be sentenced in connection with a drug and money-laundering ring that spanned more than seven years, according to court records.

The indictment against the group alleges Mendoza and his co-defendants of federal drug conspiracy and money laundering charges involving the movement of more than 9,700 pounds of marijuana and more than 23 kilos of cocaine over a seven-year period, according to court records.

“Between Feb. 2009 and June 2016, (defendants) knowingly and intentionally conspire and agree together, to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances,” the indictment states.

Mendoza’s role in the conspiracy involved buying vehicles and hiring drivers to use those vehicles to smuggle drugs and cash, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Mendoza pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, in exchange the government agreed to dismiss the remaining four counts against him, including money laundering and import and export of narcotics, to name a few, court records show.

The 28-year-old was previously arrested and charged with a third-degree felony in April 2015 after McAllen police discovered more than $25,000 in cash at his residence in McAllen — found hidden inside a hidden compartment at a home in the 4400 block of West Heron Court.

Inside the home, investigators checked out the master bedroom where a K-9 unit alerted officers to the bedroom’s closet. Upon search of the closet, investigators found the ripped corners of cash and several torn rubber bands. Moments later, they discovered $25,000 stacked and divided in bundles hidden in a secret compartment behind a light fixture, according to the complaint.

The other defendants, Cynthia Valencia, 25, a U.S. citizen who resided in Pharr and Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mario Alberto Medina-Mendoza, 29, of Mission, Ismael “Mike” Silva-Cortez, 37, and Alan Castillo, both of Mexico, pleaded guilty to a related money laundering conspiracy.

Valencia, Medina-Mendoza, and Silva-Cortez, used their bank accounts to be used to funnel or launder approximately $254,035 of illegal proceeds, court records show.

Valencia, Medina-Mendoza, and Silva Cortez, were sentenced to 18 months, 33 months, and 37 months in prison respectively, the release states.

Castillo, who was the moneyman, was given a 70-month prison sentence for his role in the conspiracy. He oversaw the movement of drug proceeds from other areas of the United States to South Texas.

A sixth defendant, Ramon Valencia-Morfin, 53, was found dead of a self-inflicted wound to his neck inside his cell at the Willacy County Regional Detention Facility, shortly after he was arrested in connection with the conspiracy.

Read the indictment.