Jury returns indictment against Fernandezs
On November 15, 2011 a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Jose Luis Fernandez, aka “Junior,” 37, Francisco Villanueva Fernandez, aka “Frank,” 43, Aaron Steven Fernandez, aka “Fat A--,” 26, and Thomas Joseph Salazar, aka “T.J.” with various offenses related to narcotics trafficking, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. The defendants remain on pre-trial release following their arrests early this month by Special Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Arraignment dates have not yet been set.In addition, Jose Fernandez was charged with three substantive counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of running an illegal gambling business. Thomas Salazar is also charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Defendants Aaron Fernandez and David Escobar are also each charged with one count of running an illegal gambling business. The indictment alleges that from from 2009 to October 2011, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and five kilograms or more of cocaine. From December 2010 to October 2011, Jose Fernandez, Aaron Fernandez, and David Escobar operated an illegal sports book gambling operation.An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, the conspiracy count carries a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $10 million fine; each of the substantive possession with intent to distribute cocaine counts carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The illegal gambling count carries a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A felony information was filed against Amy Fernandez, charging her with one count of structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation which would require the defendants, upon conviction, to forfeit the total amount of proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of the offense, including:including: more than $600,000 in cash (already seized), nine vehicles, including a camper, a boat, two Mercedez-Benz, a Bentley, and a Maserati, and seven pieces of real property in the Hutchinson County area. The ongoing investigation is being led by the DEA with assistance from several agencies including the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Amarillo Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Schall is in charge of the prosecution.