Borger residents plead guilty in drug case

Three Borger, Texas, residents indicted in November 2011 on various offenses related to narcotics trafficking and gambling pleaded guilty in federal court in Amarillo,on Jan 5, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson. According to U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas, Jose Luis Fernandez, 37, and Francisco Villanueva Fernandez, 43, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and David Escobar pleaded guilty to one count of operating an illegal gambling business. These are the last defendants charged in the case to enter guilty pleas. The filed document state Jose Luis Fernandez, aka “Junior,” admitted that from 2009 to October 2011, he conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. He admitted supplying narcotics to street-level dealers in and around Amarillo and helped arrange shipments from outside of North Texas for delivery to the Texas Panhandle. He faces a statutory sentence of not less than 10 years and up to life in prison and a $10 million fine. In addition, as part of his plea agreement with the government, Fernandez agreed to forfeit substantial property including nearly $450,000 in cash already seized, three vehicles and numerous parcels of real estate in Hutchinson County. Francisco Villanueva Fernandez, aka “Frank,” admitted that during the same time frame, he conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and five kilograms or more of cocaine. He also admitted supplying narcotics to street-level dealers in and around Amarillo. He faces a statutory sentence of not less than 10 years and up to life in prison and a $10 million fine.David Escobar admitted in filed documents that from December 2010 to October 2011, he operated all or part of a gambling business that involved sports betting. Jose Luis Fernandez hired Escobar to help operate his sports-book operation in the Texas Panhandle, agreeing to pay Escobar $300 per week to act as a bookie, fielding telephone calls by individuals placing sports bets, documenting bets and arranging for the payout of winnings and collections of debts. Part of his job involved receiving payments at scheduled times. When Escobar faced a difficult time receiving payment, Escobar would contact Jose Luis Fernandez, or his brother Aaron Steven Fernandez, for assistance in collecting. Jose and Frank Fernandez were taken into the custody of the U.S. Marshal; defendant David Escobar remains on pre-trial release. Sentencing dates have not yet been set.