A father and son from Robstown were among seven men arrested on drug charges last week as part of a large drug and money laundering investigation involving federal authorities.
Benito Silva Jr., 50, and his son, Benito Silva III, 33, along with Leo Ramon, 45, Raul Soliz, 34, and Joe Perez, 35, all of Robstown, and Jose Ramirez, 37, and Encarnacion Chavez, 30, both of Palmview, were arrested on warrants April 30.
The warrants were issued following the return of a seven-count sealed indictment against the men on April 17.
The indictment remains sealed pending the execution of other outstanding arrest warrants in the ongoing investigation, said Angela Dodge, a public affairs officer for U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle.
The Robstown defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian L. Owsley in federal court in Corpus Christi April 30. The Palmview defendants made their initial appearances before a magistrate judge in McAllen May 1.
Federal officials said the United States expects to seek the continued detention of all seven defendants without bond, pending trial of the cases.
Silva Jr. and his son, along with Ramon, Soliz, Perez and Ramirez, are all charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute kilogram-quantities of cocaine.
Based upon the amount of the alleged cocaine, the men face no fewer than 10 years and maximum life imprisonments if convicted.
Both Silvas, Ramirez and Chavez are also charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Four of the remaining five counts of the indictment allege specific instances between May 2007 and September 2007 in which Silva III, Ramirez, Ramon, Perez and Soliz allegedly possessed cocaine with the intent of distributing it.
In the last count of the indictment, Silva Jr. is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
In addition, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized four firearms from Chavez's home in Palmview, including a semi-automatic assault rifle, two .357 caliber revolvers and one .40 caliber pistol.
The criminal charges and arrests are a result of a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation in Corpus Christi, DeGabrielle said.
The OCDETF included U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ATF, the Corpus Christi Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Kingsville Specialized Crimes and Narcotics Task Force.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Muschenheim.