ICE Homeland Security Investigations agents made the arrests Wednesday following a lengthy investigation that found connections between various drug-smuggling attempts, an ICE spokeswoman said.
Agents arrested David Villanueva, 23, Martin Belmontes, 30, Mary Ann Brise–o, 20, Elvis Medina, 23, Jesus Eduardo Palacios, 19, Gustavo Garcia Jr., 20, and Elsie Hernandez, 60.
Officials said the arrests took place in El Paso except for Hernandez, who was arrested in Farmington.
Detention hearings are scheduled to take place Monday morning before a federal magistrate judge.
Earlier this month, a federal grand jury had indicted the seven defendants on charges of conspiracy to import marijuana and conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute.
ICE officials said the group members were allegedly involved in the smuggling of marijuana loads at the El Paso border from Feb. 28, 2009 to Aug. 10, 2012.
An ICE spokeswoman did not disclosed if the group had ties to Mexican drug cartels.
Federal court documents show that at least one of the seven had been previously arrested on drug smuggling charges.
On July 13, 2011, Medina was arrested by federal agents after more than 50 pounds of a marijuana were found hidden in the quarter panels of a car he was driving across the Bridge of the Americas, according to court documents. In that case, documents show that Medina was convicted and sentenced to five years probation, six months home confinement and a $500 fine.
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