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© AP/Jacquelyn Martin
Local, state, and federal law enforcement officials teamed up to arrest a San Antonio man who previously received a sentencing commutation from then-President Barack Obama. The man, and seven others, now face federal drug trafficking charges.

This week, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas announced an eight-count federal indictment against a 41-year-old Texas Syndicate lieutenant, Hilario Nieto (aka "Shorty"), and seven other men. The eight alleged conspirators are charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, federal officials said in a written statement.

Alleged conspirator Danny Rivas, a 41-year old Texas Syndicate lieutenant from San Antonio, is also facing two counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Prosecutors also charged 31-year-old Daniel Castaneda and 40-year-old Melissa Molina, both from San Antonio, with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Texas Mafia member Martin Reynosa, 56, and Maria Rivas, 58, are charged with five counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin.

The alleged conspiracy began in June 2019 in San Antonio, prosecutors stated. The group is said to have conspired to sell methamphetamine and heroin in the San Antonio area. Through the execution of search warrants, police seized methamphetamine, heroin, and two firearms.

Prosecutors said a federal court sentenced Nieto to 248 months in prison in 2004 on drug charges. In 2016, prior to his scheduled release in 2021, then-President Obama commuted his sentence. The commutation became effective in August 2018. Less than one year later, Nieto allegedly returned to drug trafficking.

"It is truly appalling that a man whose sentence the President previously commuted chose to flout that generous gift after being released from federal prison and resume gang-related drug dealing in the San Antonio community," said U.S. Attorney Sofer.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Whipple added, "Methamphetamine and heroin trafficking, along with the associated crimes, are particularly destructive to the quality of life in our communities. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to target and eliminate these criminal organizations and hold them accountable for the destruction they cause."

If convicted on the methamphetamine-related charges, each defendant could be sentenced to between ten years and life in prison. Convictions on the heroin-related charges could bring a sentence of up to 20 years to life in federal prison.