DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Texas

For Immediate Release

Friday, April 24, 2015
Sarah R. Saldaña
, United States Attorney
Contact: Kathy Colvin

Federal Jury Convicts Sweetwater Man for Role in Heroin Distribution Conspiracy

Abilene, Texas — Following a three-day trial before U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis, in federal court in Abilene, Texas, a jury has convicted Ernest Martenez Melendez, 63, of Sweetwater, Texas, on an indictment charging one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.  The announcement was made today by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Melendez faces a maximum statutory penalty of not less than 10 years and up to life in federal prison and a $10 million fine.  A sentencing date has not yet been set before Judge Solis.

All of Melendez’s six co-defendants in the case have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.

The government presented evidence at trial that for a period of several months in 2013, Melendez traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, and obtained ounce quantities of black tar heroin, which he then transported back to Sweetwater, re-packaged in smaller quantities and distributed to numerous individuals there.

The Texas Department of Public Safety – Criminal Investigations Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigated.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Juanita Fielden and Justin Cunningham are prosecuting.

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Dallas Field Division