Drug Kingpin to Spend 18 Years in Federal Prison for Running Cocaine Distribution Network in Houston

Houston, TX: Francisco Rene Luna, a 44-year-old Houston resident, has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for his involvement in an international cocaine distribution scheme, as part of a crackdown on drug trafficking. U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced the news following Luna’s guilty plea on April 11, 2022.

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a 216-month sentence, highlighting Luna’s role as a leader in the drug trafficking group. Luna was discovered to have overseen three stash houses in Houston, utilizing them to store both the drugs and the money from their sale. His active role in bringing cocaine into the United States played a crucial part in the sentencing.

Luna’s operation was associated with the Gulf Cartel, characterized by U.S. Attorney Hamdani as “one of the most violent and brutal drug trafficking organizations,” which presents significant dangers to communities in both the United States and Mexico. The organization supplied Luna with the cocaine, which was later distributed nationwide.

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Throughout the eight-year scheme, authorities confiscated 176 kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of methamphetamine, and $3.5 million in drug profits from stash houses controlled by the organization in December 2015. For four years, Luna managed to avoid capture and ran his drug trafficking operations from Mexico until he was arrested in Monterrey in June 2019, thanks to a joint effort between Mexican and American law enforcement agencies.

So far, 15 individuals have been found guilty of the conspiracy. After his sentencing, Luna will be moved to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility, where he will serve his sentence and then undergo five years of supervised release.

Luna and his associates were targeted as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which aims to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking, money laundering, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations. The Houston Strike Force is dedicated to targeting drug trafficking operations that have a major impact on Houston and South Texas.

The inquiry that resulted in Luna’s conviction was carried out by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Houston Police Department, with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Casey N. MacDonald and Anibal J. Alaniz handling the case. This successful prosecution represents a significant win in combating drug trafficking in the area, showcasing the power of joint law enforcement initiatives.

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