By Will Johnson
TYLER – A 24-year-old Tyler man, with connections to the Los Zetas drug cartel, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in federal court on Wednesday, Nov. 22.
“Eduardo Pineda pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute and possess with intent to manufacture and distribute 50 or more marijuana plants, maintaining a drug-involved premises and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime,” according to federal court documents.
At the time of his arrest in March of this year, Pineda was reported to have supervised the day-to-day operations of at least 15 different grow areas in throughout East Texas area counties.
These counties included: Houston; Anderson; Sabine; Smith; Morris; Harrison; Upshur; Van Zandt; and Henderson.
Pineda’s arrest stemmed from a multi-jurisdictional investigation involving several different law enforcement agencies. The investigation started in Smith County, was ironically named “Operation Joint Venture,” and began during July of 2015.
At the time of his arrest, court documents indicated “… three cultivation sites were discovered with approximately 22,000 marijuana plants, which were seized.”
Using information obtained after Pineda’s arrest, law enforcement officials seized an additional 50,000 plants distributed throughout the grow areas.
According to formulas developed by the Drug Enforcement Agency, it is believed the plants were capable of producing nearly 170,000 pounds of marijuana with an estimated value of over $101 million.
Pineda’s sentencing date has not been set.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.