Area’s chief federal judge sentences cocaine defendants
By RICHARD MARK GLOVER
ALPINE – U.S. federal Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio came to Alpine Monday to pass sentence on 17 of 22 Alpine and area persons snagged in a January drug sting known as the “West Texas Enterprise.” Biery is the Chief U.S. District Judge of the Western District of Texas, and his sentences on the defendants ranged from 15 days to 19 years in prison.
John Michael Guadarrama, said to be the kingpin of the drug-trafficking ring, received 19 years and seven months confinement followed by 16 years of supervised release and forfeiture of $35,000.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 11 pounds of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school. Guadarrama was based in Sanderson and Alpine and the cocaine was trans-shipped from Fort Stockton. Evidence was generated from wiretaps and surveillance.
At the beginning of the sentencing, Guadarrama’s court-appointed Midland attorney, Richard Alvarado, reiterated a request to the judge for an earlier sought last minute petition.
“Since the plea, I’ve learned of my client’s bi-polar history,” said Alvarado.
The question of whether Guadarrama was competent to enter the guilty plea took center stage in the Alpine federal courtroom, as Biery, a Jimmy Carter appointment, began a series of questions to the defendant, metaphoric in nature, ranging from football to pyramids, sibling hierarchy to education, as if the client might be lying down, making a brief interlude on a psychiatrist’s couch.
The judge spoke of previous cases where he had presided with mental illness of a defendant as the focus. James J. Miller Jr. of Alpine, the Chief Assistant US Attorney and prosecutor in the case, answered a question from the judge and alluded to Title 18 of the Federal Code of Regulations citing section 4241, a series of statutes relating to mental health and law and procedure evolved since John Hinkley’s attempted assassination on President Reagan.
The judge eyed Guadarrama, who stood shackled before the judge with his head down garbed in the orange and white stripped uniform of the Presidio County Jail. The judge ruled the defendant “competent” and then proceeded to read the sentence.
Later the judge stated that “in 34 years I’ve never had someone request this so late in the proceedings.”
The following defendants pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 11 pounds of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a protected area (i.e. a school):
John Michael Guadarrama – 19 years 6 months confinement, followed by 16 years of supervised release, a forfeiture of $35,000, and a special assessment of $200. He also pleaded guilty to a felon in possession of a firearm.
Rene Ortega – 5 years, 10 months confinement, 8 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
James Horatio Torres – 5 years 3 months, 8 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
Justin Gilbert Villanueva – 5 years, 8 years supervised release, $100 special assessment
The following two defendants pleaded guilty to maintaining a drug involved premise:
John Charles Staessens – 3 years, one month, 3 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
Katheryn Sue Staessens – 3 years, 1 month, 3 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
The following defendants pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine near a protected area:
Ernesto Cedillo Vega – 1 year + 1 day, 6 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
Leo Ruben Portillo – 1 year + 1 day, 6 years supervised release, $100 special assessment
Antonio Covarrubias Jr. – 2 years, 5 months, 6 years supervised release, $100 special assessment
The following defendants pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine:
Federico Hernandez – 5 year’s probation, $100 special assessment.
Eric Keith Payne – 5 months, 3 years supervised release, $100 special assessment
Manuel David Carrillo – 5 years probation, $100 special assessment
Ramona Alaniz Ramirez – 5 years probation, $100 special assessment
Robert Molinar Ramos – 1 year, 3 months, 3 years supervised release, $ 100 special assessment
Christopher Michael Quezada – 5 years probation, $100 special assessment
The following defendants pleaded guilty to felony possession of cocaine:
Miguel Luis Llanez – 150 days, 1 year supervised release, $100 special assessment
The following defendant pleaded guilty to felony possession of marijuana:
Joel Rojo Fierro: 15 days, 1 year supervised release, $100 special assessment
On Wednesday May 23, David Christopher Hardin pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of cocaine (misdemeanors) and was sentenced by U.S Magistrate Judge B. Dwight Goains to 3 years probation and a $2,000 fine.
Oscar Rojo Fierro is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, July 16 in Pecos federal court before U.S. District Judge Robert Junell.
Clarissa Marie Luevano, Irene Mirano Alvarado, and Irene Wright Olivas’ sentencing dates are pending.
According to Miller, the Bureau of Prisons will look at each sentencing and based on the crime committed, if separation from other prisoners is needed, and the availability of space, a committee will determine where they will do their time. Federal penitentiaries such as El Reno and Springfield are possibilities. Those sentenced less than a year may be incarcerated locally.
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