Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thirty-Seven Arrested for Alleged Roles in Austin-Based Drug Distribution Operations

Federal, state, and local authorities have arrested 37 individuals in connection with two related drug trafficking conspiracies based in Austin, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez, and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena.
A three-count federal grand jury indictment (A13CR164), returned on April 2, 2013, and unsealed yesterday, charges 27 individuals with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine. The indictment also charges Gabriel Trevino with one count of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin. Jose Rodriguez, Jose Hernandez, Genaro Arellano, and Maria Granados also face one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Authorities allege that Jose Rodriguez-Campuzano was the Austin cell head of a large Mexican-based trafficking organization associated with the Knights Templar. Using hidden compartments in automobiles, the organization shipped methamphetamine and cocaine to defendant Jesse Trevino’s business, JT Body and Paint in Austin, where it would be prepared for shipment to distributors in Dallas, Oklahoma City, as well as cities in other states. During this investigation, authorities have seized over 75 kilograms of methamphetamine, 10 kilograms of cocaine, and two kilograms of heroin attributed to this distribution network.
A separate federal grand jury indictment (A13CR166), also returned on April 2, 2013, and unsealed yesterday, charges 14 individuals for their roles in a cocaine and methamphetamine distribution operation. The alleged leader of the organization, Jose Escamilla, as well as Rafael Ayala, Dai Zavala, Trocalle Amos, and Brian Griffin are charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine. Edgar Morales and Marco Ayala are charged in the cocaine conspiracy count; Salvador Cabral, Jessica Mitchell, and David Cooke, in the methamphetamine conspiracy count. Escamilla, Morales, Ayala, Zavala, Cooke, Josue Pineda, and James Dilworth are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Authorities allege that cocaine and methamphetamine were being transported from the Rio Grande Valley to Marco and Rafael Ayala in Austin under the direction of Jose Escamilla. Once in Austin, the drugs would be distributed locally and also outside of Texas. During the investigation, agents were able to seize multiple loads of drugs and proceeds from the sale of drugs. On one occasion, a load of 20 kilograms of cocaine was seized from a hidden compartment in an 18 wheeler. Agents seized multiple kilogram quantities of cocaine and marijuana during the course of the investigation as well as over $1,000,000 in suspected drug proceeds.
“The indictments returned this week represent the latest blow by federal and state law enforcement agencies against drug trafficking organizations in and around Austin. As a result of these charges, we hope to take more than 40 alleged drug dealers out of circulation and expect the evidence to show that their activities involved the distribution of millions of dollars’ worth of methamphetamine, cocaine, and other illegal drugs in this community and beyond,” stated United States Attorney Robert Pitman.
Upon conviction of the cocaine or methamphetamine conspiracy charge, the defendants face between 10 years and life in federal prison; on a heroin conspiracy charge, defendants face between five and 40 years in federal prison; and on a money laundering conspiracy charge, defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison.
“The magnitude of this investigation exhibits the patience, determination, and skill used by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agents and our law enforcement colleagues,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier Peña. “We are committed to staying the course until drug trafficking organizations like this one are fully dismantled.”
“Today’s dismantlement of this trafficking organization is a further step towards making Austin a safer community,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez. “Our combined law enforcement efforts will continue to be the tool which most effectively removes organized criminals from our society.”
These cases resulted from investigations conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), along with the Central Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The Central Texas HIDTA is made up of investigators from the following agencies: DEA; FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); United States Marshals Service; Texas Department of Public Safety; Austin Police Department; Round Rock Police Department; Georgetown Police Department; Cedar Park Police Department; Temple Police Department; Travis County District Attorney’s Office; Travis County Sheriff’s Office; Williamson County Sheriff’s Office; Hays County Sheriff’s Office; and the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Office of Inspector General and the Kingsville Specialized Crime and Narcotics Task Force also assisted in this investigation.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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