15th defendant in Starr drug conspiracy case pleads not guilty

A defendant named in the Starr County drug conspiracy indictment entered a not guilty plea Friday in a case that includes 15 people.

Ramiro Eden Clarke entered the plea during his arraignment before U.S. District Judge Nadia S. Medrano on Friday, an action foreshadowed Tuesday when he shook his head as the judge read his charges during the initial appearance.

Clarke is one of 15 people named in the indictment involving a drug trafficking organization in Starr County under the presumed leadership of Ignacio “Nacho” Garza, Isidoro “Lolo” Garza and Diego Alberto Reyes Roiz.

If sentenced, Clarke faces 10 years to life in prison for his involvement in the conspiracy and in an event that involved 207 kilograms of marijuana seized Sept. 1, 2020.

During the arraignment, Clarke said he takes prescription drugs for anxiety, depression and “hearing voices,” he told the judge. He was found to be competent for the hearing.

Rene P. Montalvo, the defendant’s court-appointed attorney, told the judge they decided to waive the detention hearing.

Medrano said it was an appropriate decision due to Clarke’s lengthy criminal history, the possible penalties and the amount of drugs involved.

She said she did not believe there would be any conditions or combination of conditions that would ensure Clarke’s presence in court.

The case was transferred to U.S. District Judge Randy Crane.