Trucker receives prison time for role in oil theft ring
July 10, 2020
•Land Line Staff
A federal judge handed down a prison sentence of 33 months to a Laredo truck driver who pleaded guilty to theft and wire fraud charges in connection with the theft of millions of dollars in oil from energy companies in the Eagle Ford Shale.
On Wednesday, July 8, U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra also ordered trucker Ricardo Guevara to pay $1 million in restitution for his role in a scheme that stole approximately 33,000 barrels of crude oil valued in excess of $1.8 million.
A federal grand jury indicted Guevara and four others in 2017. Two of his co-conspirators, 49-year-old Luis Valencia of San Antonio, and his nephew, 34-year-old Mauricio Valencia of San Antonio, guilty by a jury in January.
Luis Valencia was convicted of 10 counts of theft from interstate shipments, 10 counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of money laundering and four counts of transportation of stolen goods. Jurors convicted Mauricio Valencia of 10 counts of theft from interstate shipments, one count of wire fraud, and four counts of transportation of stolen goods.
Evidence presented during trial revealed that from September 2013 through February 2016, the defendants engaged in a scheme with others to steal approximately 33,000 barrels of crude oil valued in excess of $1.8 million, according to a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office.
In 2013, Luis Valencia and others began using Houston-based Andra Energy LLC as a collection point in Cotulla, Texas, for oil stolen from nearby oil storage facilities. To conceal their criminal actions, the defendants filed false documents with the Texas Railroad Commission to make it appear that the stolen oil was derived from legitimate transactions. Court records indicate the oil was later sold to unsuspecting third-parties.
Last week, Ezra granted a motion to give Luis and Mauricio Valencia a new trial.
Two other defendants – Romeo Garcia Jr. and Ricardo Sanchez Jr. — entered guilty pleas in 2018 to one count each of theft from interstate shipment and one count each of wire fraud.
Garcia was sentenced to 37 months in prison on each count, to run concurrently, and ordered to pay about $1 million in restitution, court records show. He has filed a motion for reduction of sentence.
Sanchez received two years of probation on each count and ordered to pay almost $77,700 in restitution.