Drug kingpin sentenced here is ‘biggest Zetas player’ ever tried in the US

By  | 

WACO, Texas (KWTX) A Mexican drug cartel leader was sentenced Thursday in Waco's federal court to five life prison terms plus 20 years after he was convicted here in July of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion in a case that started with the discovery of large quantities of drugs during a raid in a local residential neighborhood.


U.S. District Judge Alia Moses sentenced Juan Francisco Trevino Chavez, who’s known as “Kiko” Trevino, 38, to serve two life terms and ordered him to pay $4 million in fines and $800 in special assessment to the court.

As she read the sentence, Moses reminded Trevino, who's considered to have been the last leader of the Los Zetas cartel before it fragmented into the Cartel del Noreste, that he'd receive no consideration in sentencing because he had refused to cooperate during the investigation.

"No cooperation, so no consideration," she said from the bench.

Prosecutor Russ Leachman said after the proceeding that the total amount of drugs intercepted in this operation could "rank as the biggest in the United States."

He also called Trevino the "biggest Zetas player ever to go to trial in the United States."

Over the course of the investigation agents accounted for millions of pounds of marijuana and significant amounts of cocaine that were smuggled over the U.S.-Mexico border, transported through Waco and on to Dallas, where it was sold, and moved on to other parts of the country.

"There were several hundred pounds of marijuana delivered and sold in Waco in 2010," Leachman said.

A jury in the same courtroom found Trevino, nicknamed "Comandante Kiko," guilty on July 24 and returned its decision on charges including: conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import marijuana, unlawful distribution of controlled substances, conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Moses presided over his trial.

The original counts were based upon a large amount of drugs that were recovered during a raid in Waco, in the residential neighborhood behind the Target store on Bosque Boulevard.

The courtroom was filled with about 40 onlookers, most of them attorneys and law enforcement, and about seven members of Trevino' family as Moses reviewed the case, listened to objections from the defense and listened to allocution.

At one point Moses called family members down and ordered silence in the courtroom, and later, after Trevino made an undiscernible comment from the defense table, she railed at him that his "conduct is horrific."

Leachman, in his closing, said Trevino is responsible for as many as 134 killings and, over a period of years, arranged for shipping as much as a quarter-million kilograms of cocaine into the U.S.

"This was a massive undertaking," Leachman said, "hundreds of weapons to arm a society of drug dealers, corrupting police officers in the U.S. and in foreign countries."

Leachman also said Trevino was leader of a drug gang that has, over the past 10 years, shipped $1.8 billion in cocaine into the U.S. and also moved $30-million-a-month in marijuana.

"This is one of the most violent gangs in the country," Leachman told Moses.

Moses announced her sentence verdict after about two hours and Trevino was led, shackled, from the courtroom to await transfer to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Prosecutors presented evidence that from 2004 until September 2016, when he was arrested, Trevino was a member of the Los Zetas drug trafficking organization, operating primarily in the Mexican corridors of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Ciudad Acuna and Piedras Negras, Coahuila.

"Evidence also revealed that Kiko Trevino organized the source and distribution of large quantities of narcotics, laundered drug proceeds, and controlled cells of traffickers and a group of armed (enforcers) in the Nueva Laredo area," a U.S. Attorney's Office news release issued at the time of conviction, said.

"The trial evidence showed the defendant participated in the trafficking of more than 250,000 kilos of cocaine, hundreds of thousands of kilos of marijuana, and 800 firearms."

Evidence further revealed that "Kiko" Trevino met with and conspired with the highest-level operatives in the criminal organization, including his uncles.

After his uncles Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, both Los Zetas leaders, were arrested, Los Zetas split into two groups and Trevino assumed leadership of one of them, the Cartel Del Noreste.

Both uncles have been convicted and sentenced for drug trafficking, as well, federal court documents say.

Trevino has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 238, 2016 in Baytown.

Trevino trial prompted stepped up security around the federal courthouse in downtown Waco in July.

Money recovered during the investigation. (U.S. Attorney's Office)
Marijuana recovered during the investigation. (U.S. Attorney's Office)
Bundles of marijuana recovered during the investigation. (U.S. Attorney's Office)