Meadville Tribune

Local News

December 18, 2012

Texas brothers get state prison for marijuana operation

MEADVILLE — Twin brothers from Texas have been sentenced to state prison for running a ring that coordinated the transportation and distribution of as much as 20 pounds of marijuana a month into northwestern Pennsylvania.

Miguel Rodriguez, 29, of Corpus Christi recently was sentenced in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas to a total of four to eight years in state prison for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and criminal use of a communication device. His twin brother, Marcelino Rodriguez, 29, of Eddy, was sentenced to a total of three to five years for the same charges.

The Rodriguez twins were among nine people charged this summer by the state Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and State Police involved in the shipment of drugs to Pennsylvania and the transfer of money back to Texas.

Authorities said Miguel Rodriguez operated from Texas, speaking with his brother Marcelino and others by telephone to arrange drug shipments to Pennsylvania and then having money from the sales transferred back to Texas.

The Rodriguez brothers pleaded guilty before Judge John Spataro in county court Nov. 1 in connection with the trafficking of more than 10 pounds of marijuana.

Though they were given years  in state prison, both Rodriguez men were given credit for 183 days in jail prior to sentencing by Spataro. They also were ordered to pay fines of $2,000 each plus court costs.

Miguel Rodriguez had faced a maximum of 17 years in prison and $45,000 in fines while Marcelino Rodriguez faced up to 12 years in prison and $30,000 in fines when sentenced.

Authorities allege the Rodriguez brothers were assisted by Robert Karl Conaway, 29, in the distribution of marijuana in and around Crawford County. In August 2010, Marcelino Rodriguez and Conaway were arrested in Crawford County on unrelated warrants, but the two allegedly attempted to continue operating their drug organization from inside the county jail, according to authorities.

Rodriguez and Conaway made numerous telephone calls while inside the Crawford County jail that were recorded by law enforcement, according to court records.

On Nov. 30, two Texas women were sentenced in county court on conspiracy charges for their roles the marijuana distribution network.

Laura Rodriguez, 30, of Chilton, Texas, who is a sister to the Rodriguez brothers, and Pamela Barrientos, 25, of Eddy, Texas, each were sentenced by Judge Mark Stevens to six to 24 months less one day in Crawford County jail for conspiracy to be followed by 12 months probation. Stevens ordered each to pay a $250 fine and court costs as well.

Laura Rodriguez assisted in the transfer of drug funds while Barrientos acted as a distributor of funds for the organization, according to authorities. Barrientos received thousands of dollars in wire transfers and then spoke by phone with Marcelino Rodriguez about how much money different participants should be making from the drug transactions, according to authorities.

The remaining suspects in the Texas Twins marijuana case still are scheduled to go on trial in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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