Smack in the Middle of Northwest Dallas

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Dennis Road runs from Royal Lane north toward Forest Lane, where it turns into Josey Lane. But on that short Northwest Dallas street, federal law-enforcement agents discovered a fairly large heroin trafficking operation that, early next year, could very well land three Dallas men in prison for life.

The U.S. Attorney's Office this afternoon sent word that 21-year-old Marco Antonio Romero and 25-year-old Timothy Ryan Daniels pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Both men could get life in prison when sentenced in April. Also today 27-year-old Juan Cruz Puerta pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute less than 100 grams of heroin, for which he could receive 20 years in prison. A fourth man -- 32-year-old Martin Laguna -- pleaded guilty last week to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute one kilogram or more of
heroin and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He too could get life in prison come March.

After the jump, the entire media release, including details concerning their drug operation and arrests. --Robert Wilonsky

DALLAS MEN CONVICTED IN HEROIN DISTRIBUTION CONSPIRACY

DALLAS - Four North Dallas men who were charged in a heroin distribution conspiracy, have pled guilty to their role in that conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas.

Today, Marco Antonio Romero, 21, and Timothy Ryan Daniels, a/k/a "Burrito," 25, pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Paul D. Stickney to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. They each face a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison when they are sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay on April 7, 2008. Another defendant, Juan Cruz Puerta, 27, pled guilty today to possession with intent to distribute less than 100 grams of heroin. While a sentencing date has not yet been set for Puerta, he faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison.

Last week, one of the leaders of the conspiracy, Martin Laguna, a/k/a "Joaquin," 32, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Laguna faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison; sentencing is set for March 31, 2008, before Judge Lindsay.

From March 1, 2006 through March 1, 2007, Martin Laguna, Marco Antonio Romero, Timothy Ryan Daniels, Juan Cruz Puerta, Arturo Ramirez, a/k/a "Miguel" and "Refugio," and Francisco Laguna, a/k/a "Carlos," were involved in a conspiracy to distribute heroin. Arturo Ramirez and
Francisco Laguna are charged as co-defendants in the indictment which was returned in May 2007, but remain fugitives. Martin Laguna and Francisco Laguna are brothers. Arturo Ramirez is their cousin.

During the course of the conspiracy, Martin Laguna received heroin from Arturo Ramirez which Martin Laguna would in turn distribute to Francisco Laguna, Marco Antonio Romero, Timothy Ryan Daniels, Juan Cruz Puerta and other individuals. For example on February 28, 2007, while Dallas Police Department Officers had stopped Martin Laguna in a traffic stop, officers seized 50 individually-wrapped pieces of black tar heroin and $4,377 in U.S. currency which Laguna admitted was his and that they were part of his drug trafficking activities. In another example, on March 1, 2007, Dallas Police Officers and agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at Laguna's residence on Dennis Road in Dallas and seized 77.1 grams of powder heroin from a toolbox in the master bedroom closet; 269.9 grams of black tar heroin from a dresser drawer in the master bedroom; 30.8 grams of powder heroin from a dresser drawer in the master bedroom; 89.7 grams of black tar heroin (273 individually wrapped pieces) from a ceramic decoration in the dining room cabinet; 24 grams of cocaine from a ceramic decoration in the dining room cabinet; three firearms located in the same dining room cabinet where the heroin and cocaine were located; and $96,629 in U.S. currency located throughout the apartment. Laguna admitted that all of these items seized were part of his drug
trafficking activities.

U.S. Attorney Roper praised the investigative efforts of the Coppell, Dallas and Farmers Branch Police Departments, the Dallas Independent School District Police Department - Criminal Investigations Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Robinson.




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