For Immediate Release
Local Man Sentenced for Drive-By Shooting Conspiracy to Distribute Synthetic Narcotics
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 19-year-old Corpus Christi resident has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoids and discharging a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking offense, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Moises Alvarado pleaded guilty May 16, 2018.
Today, Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey sentenced Alvarado to 108 months for the synthetic cannabinoid offense as well as a 120-month consecutive term for discharging a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. The total 228-month prison term will be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.
On Nov. 15, 2017, Corpus Christi Police Department (CCPD) officers responded to a drive-by shooting in the 400 block of Breckenridge in Corpus Christi. Upon arrival, officers discovered that gunfire had struck a woman and child inside the residence. At the scene, officers recovered a total of 47 shell casings from two different caliber assault rifles.
Two days later, CCPD responded to an accidental shooting that occurred in the 5800 block of Weber Road in Corpus Christi. At that time, they discovered that Alvarado had been shot and that Librado Esquivel, 24, and Henrey Ayala III, 26, both of Corpus Christi, dropped him off at a local urgent care center.
As part of the investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and CCPD SWAT Team executed search warrants at area residences on Dec. 7, 2017. At that time, law enforcement arrested Esquivel on a criminal complaint and seized several firearms, multiple rounds of ammunition, firearm parts and magazines, U.S. currency and multiple packages of synthetic cannabinoids. Ayala was arrested on a criminal complaint the following week.
As a result of the federal investigation, agents determined Esquivel was a large supplier and distributor of synthetic cannabinoids in the area and was owed a debt related to his drug trafficking. Ayala and Alvarado agreed to commit the shooting and were promised a quantity of synthetic cannabinoids among other things as payment.
Ayala and Esquivel also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoids and discharging a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking offense and are set for sentencing before Judge Rainey on Sept. 17, 2018.
Synthetic cannabinoids are chemical compounds that mimic the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. These chemical compounds can be applied to carrier mediums such as plant material and ingested using rolling papers, pipes, vaporizers or otherwise taken orally. Synthetic cannabinoids are usually sold in small, foil or plastic bags containing dried leaves (resembling potpourri) and is marketed as incense that can be smoked. It is commonly sold and known on the street as synthetic marijuana, fake weed, legal and by its popular brand names such as Spice, K2, Kush, Klimaxx and many others.
Alvarado will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future. Ayala and Esquivel are also in custody.
ATF, HSI and CCPD conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt is prosecuting the case.