Case: 09-40703 Document: 00511397625 Page: 3 Date Filed: 03/01/2011
At the ranch, the officers later found a “burn pile” of the plastic wrap and
cardboard refuse, as well as four large rolls of commercial plastic wrap of the
type used by smugglers to wrap marijuana. The officers did not observe any
marijuana, but they did see men make repeated trips to the carport, which was
large enough to store all the marijuana discovered later.
Around 6:00 a.m. the next morning, the tractor-trailer left the ranch,
followed by a green car and a maroon pickup truck. The two surveillance
officers, joined by Sergeant Ruben Morin, followed these vehicles. Shortly after
leaving the ranch, the tractor-trailer was pulled over by DPS trooper Donato
Vela for driving on the wrong side of the road and speeding through a curve.
The driver of the trailer, Jose Gutierrez, later told law enforcement that he had
been hired by Ruben Rivera to drive a load of produce to Houston and did not
know Cisneros, Gomez, Guevara or Llamas.
As Vela stopped the tractor-trailer, the green car — which had been
following immediately behind that rig for about ten miles — turned onto a side
road and headed in the opposite direction. DEA Agent Juan Hernandez stopped
the green car, which Cisneros was driving and in which Gomez was occupying
the passenger seat. Neither of the two officers who had maintained surveillance
of the tractor-trailer the previous night had seen the green car during their vigil.
The red pick up truck, which was being driven by Guevara, was also stopped.
In the tractor-trailer, agents found bundles of marijuana mixed in with
boxes of cabbages. They eventually recovered 160 boxes containing a total of 498
bundles of marijuana, which in toto weighed approximately 7,300 pounds, or
3,309 kilograms. The estimated value of the marijuana shipment was between
$1 and $3 million. Inside the red pickup truck agents found back-support belts
The wide range in estimated value results from the variation in the price of marijuana
across Texas. According to the testimony of Agent Rivera, in South Texas marijuana generally
sells for $150 per pound whereas elsewhere in Texas marijuana sells for an average of $450