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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested Rodolfo “Rudy” Hernandez, 40, of Los Fresnos on April 30. Hernandez owns Rolynn’s Transportation, an Edinburg-based company that works for FedEx Ground.
“It’s a very extensive organization with a wide reach across the United States,” Minnick said Monday morning, when Hernandez appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker for a detention hearing.
Attempts to schedule an interview with Brownsville-based attorney Rick Canales, who represents Hernandez, were unsuccessful.
Along with Hernandez, the DEA and the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Luis Ortiz III, Florentino Galvan, Antonio Saenz, Guadalupe Gonzalez and Ulises Francisco Cortinas, according to a news release published by the U.S. Department of Justice. Another man, Emilio Garcia Uribe, remains a fugitive.
The news release didn’t specify where, exactly, the men lived, identifying them as residents of “the Brownsville and McAllen areas.”
A grand jury indicted them on drug trafficking and money laundering charges in March. If convicted on the most serious charge, they face a minimum of 10 years in federal prison.
Hernandez incorporated Rolynn’s Transportation in 2005, according to records filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. He also owns Rolynn’s Transfer Inc. and Rolynn’s Truck Services LLC.
Rolynn’s Transportation maintains a fleet of more than 30 cargo vans, trucks and other vehicles, which frequently stop at the FedEx Ground warehouse near the intersection of U.S. 281 and Independence Drive in Edinburg.
The company employs more than 20 people, according to Hernandez’s sister-in-law, Ana Diaz, who testified during the detention hearing.
While he posed as a successful businessman, Hernandez shipped thousands of pounds of drugs across the country, Minnick said, summarizing the multi-year investigation.
Federal agents recorded phone conversations between Hernandez and other members of the drug trafficking organization, Minnick said. They also conducted surveillance, which caught Hernandez accepting cash.
Investigators identified five FedEx accounts linked to drug trafficking, Minnick said. The accounts had been used to ship packages that weighed more than 70,000 pounds. Whether or not all the packages contained drugs or money remains unclear.
“He would receive shipments of money in the Federal Express packages,” Minnick said.
The organization mailed packages to Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri, among other states.
Minnick said federal agents believe Luis Ortiz III, who is charged in the indictment, is a “very close associate” of Hernandez. When they executed a search warrant at Ortiz’s home, agents found semi-automatic rifles in several rooms.
Agents also executed a search warrant at Hernandez’s home, where they found $150,000 cash.
“I believe these individuals have ties to the Gulf Cartel,” Minnick said. She later clarified that federal agents believe the organization’s suppliers in Mexico regularly communicate with members of the cartel.
The Criminal Investigation division of the IRS and the DEA investigated the case, which will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.