Gulf Cartel leader caught crossing illegally near La Paloma

MGN Online

Border Patrol last week arrested a Gulf Cartel member who federal prosecutors say admitted to coordinating the smuggling of nearly 2,000 pounds of marijuana a week into Cameron County for several years, according to a criminal complaint.

Rene Garcia-Cantu, who told Drug Enforcement Agents that he held a leadership role in the criminal organization, is facing a charge of smuggling approximately 517 pounds of marijuana back in 2016.

He was arrested on Wednesday after Border Patrol agents discovered a foot path leading north from the Rio Grande near La Paloma that resulted in Garcia-Cantu’s arrest.

The night before his arrest, there was a gunfight in Reynosa that resulted in the death of a state police officer.

The criminal complaint against Garcia-Cantu doesn’t say why he crossed the Rio Grande on foot, but a records check on the man conducted by Border Patrol revealed he was the subject of a DEA drug trafficking investigation.

The charging document does, however, say that he admitted to being in charge of smuggling marijuana in the Los Indios area and made an annual profit of $302,400.

According to the criminal complaint, he held the leadership role in the Gulf Cartel from Jan. 2016 to Jan. 2019.

If what prosecutors say Garcia-Cantu told them is true, he is responsible for coordinating the smuggling of approximately 309,504 pounds of marijuana during a three-year period for a profit of $907,200.

As of now, Garcia-Cantu is only charged with a drug charge for coordinating a 517-pound load of marijuana seized on Feb. 10, 2016, that resulted in three arrests.

Court records show that Border Patrol arrested three people after a lengthy vehicle chase in the case where Roberto Torres, Lauro Castillo-Tapia and Mark Anthony Rojas threw caltrops out of the vehicle they were in during the chase to disable Border Patrol vehicles.

All three reached plea deals with the government and were sentenced to prison in the case.

As for Garcia-Cantu, he is being held without bond pending further hearings, court records show.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com