Law Enforcement Arrests Defendants Charged in Large-Scale Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 06, 2012|
DALLAS—Following a law enforcement operation led yesterday afternoon by the FBI and the Dallas Police Department, seven defendants charged in a federal criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine have been arrested. During the course of the yesterday’s operation, four federal search warrants and two state search warrant were executed and law enforcement seized methamphetamine, firearms, and several vehicles, including a Bentley. Today’s announcement was made by Sarah R. Saldaña, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas; Diego G. Rodriguez, Special Agent in Charge of Dallas FBI; and David Brown, Chief of the Dallas Police Department.
“I commend the dedicated efforts of the FBI, the Dallas Police Department, and our prosecutors in this significant OCDETF investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Saldaña. “Because of their hard work and diligence, a major drug trafficking organization that operated right in our backyard has been disrupted and a neighborhood made safer.”
“These arrests will have a considerable impact on the distribution of methamphetamine and neighborhood violence in the North Texas area,” said Special Agent in Charge Rodriguez. “Cooperation of local and federal law enforcement led to this success in disrupting a drug trafficking organization, and it serves as a demonstration of our commitment to providing safe communities for our residents.”
“We echo the sentiments of our federal law enforcement partners and believe that these cooperative efforts are key to improving the quality of life and safety of our communities,” said Deputy Chief Andrew Acord, commander of the Dallas Police Department’s Narcotics Division.
The following defendants, all Dallas residents, were arrested:
- Tony Hernandez, aka “T,” 29
- Roberto Vasquez, aka “Beto/Bubba,” 20
- Agne Vasquez, 28
- Miguel Quintero, aka “Chuckie,” 19
- Johnny Angel Gamez, 20
- Sergio Piccaso-Neito
- Maria Reyna Vasquez, 44
The defendants made their initial appearances this afternoon in federal court in Dallas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez. Two defendants waived detention hearings and were ordered detained. Detention hearings are set for this Friday, November 9 and next Tuesday, November 13 for the remaining defendants.
According to the complaint, in January 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Dallas Police Department began investigating a large-scale methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking organization that was operating in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and identified Tony Hernandez as the leader of the organization. Hernandez gained the leadership role after his brother, Gonzalo Hernandez, was murdered by members of the Los Zetas Cartel. In September 2007, the investigation culminated with the seizure of approximately one pound of methamphetamine, 250 grams of cocaine, and $34,000 cash.
In March 2011, according to the complaint, the FBI began investigating the Tony Hernandez Drug Trafficking Organization and learned that the organization illegally imported large quantities of methamphetamine from Mexico on a monthly basis. In addition, the organization also illegally imported multiple kilograms of cocaine. Once the drugs were smuggled across the border, they were transported to various distribution locations in Dallas.
The investigation involved numerous undercover purchases involving significant quantities of methamphetamine and large amounts of cash as well as several court-ordered wire taps.
Yesterday, November 5, 2012, an FBI undercover contacted Quintero and negotiated the purchase of three kilograms of methamphetamine at a cost of $22,500 per kilogram. That afternoon, the undercover met Quintero at a residence on Alaska Avenue, where Quintero delivered one kilogram of methamphetamine to the undercover in exchange for $22,500. Officers with the Dallas Police Department arrested Quintero after the transaction, and when agents searched the residence, they located $22,500 in cash in the toilet bowl.
The federal search warrants were executed at four residences located on Seevers Avenue in Dallas that were used as stash houses or distribution locations. The state search warrants were executed on Alaska Drive in Dallas and at a local residential tower.
A federal criminal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The conspiracy offense charged carries a maximum penalty upon conviction of not less than 10 years or up to life in prison and a $10,000,000 fine. The U.S. Attorney’s office has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment.