Laredo lawyer admits paying nearly $50,000 in drug-trafficking proceeds to ensure drug defendant's silence

DALLAS - A lawyer practicing in Laredo, Texas, pleaded guilty on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez to a one-count Information charging interstate travel in aid of racketeering, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Alonzo Ramos, 40, who is free on bond, faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, according to the plea agreement, he will surrender "any and all of his licenses to practice law, and he shall cease practicing law." Sentencing is set for July 5 before U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay.

According to court documents, in January 2008, L.T., who was arrested and detained in Louisiana for drug trafficking, informed federal authorities that Alonzo Ramos visit him at the jail unexpectedly. L.T. explained that Ramos visited him to ensure that he was not cooperating with authorities. Afterwards, federal authorities began recording phone calls between L.T. and Ramos.

In a phone call on March 5, 2008, Ramos offered to facilitate a monetary payment to L.T. that was the proceeds of drug trafficking. In a subsequent phone call that day, Ramos and L.T. discussed putting a relative of L.T. in touch with Ramos to receive the payment and Ramos promised to visit L.T. later in the week.

On March 7, 2008, Ramos traveled to Louisiana from Texas, via the Northern District of Texas, and met L.T. at the jail in to distribute the drug proceeds. During this meeting, Ramos informed L.T. that he had received $48,500 in drug trafficking proceeds and that the money was at his house in Laredo. The two then discussed the details of how the money would be transferred, agreeing that the money would be given to L.T.'s relative.

During a phone call on March 8, 2008, Ramos told L.T. to have his relative contact him; however, unbeknownst to Ramos, L.T.'s relative was also cooperating with law enforcement. On March 13, 2008, the relative phoned Ramos who instructed him to meet him at a location in Laredo. Later that day, Ramos gave L.T.'s relative the $48,500 at the prearranged location and the relative surrendered the cash to federal law enforcement authorities.

Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Tromblay, Northern District of Texas, is in charge of the prosecution.