Nineteen Arrested in West Texas Drug Distribution Operation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 02, 2012|
United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit announced that 19 individuals have been arrested in connection with an investigation called “Operation Communication Breakdown,” which targeted a West Texas cocaine and marijuana distribution operation.
A federal grand jury seated in Midland returned several indictments charging a total of 24 defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and/or marijuana.
Court documents allege that since January 2009, the defendants, including 31-year-old Benjamin Valeriano, Jr., of Ojinaga, Mexico, whom authorities believe to be the leader of the Ojinaga Plaza for the La Linea Drug Trafficking Organization, were responsible for the distribution of over 500 kilograms of cocaine and 100 kilograms of marijuana from January 2010 to the present. The other defendants charged in the drug conspiracy include:
- 25-year-old Adam J. Seijas of Odessa, Texas;
- 24-year-old Samuel Vasquez Urias of Odessa;
- 26-year-old Itsmira Bustamante of Presidio, Texas;
- 41-year-old Esqueil Hernandez of Presidio;
- 49-year-old Juan Ramon Adame of Odessa;
- 55-year-old Pedro Gomez of Midland;
- 31-year-old Jeffrey V. Gonzalez of Odessa;
- 28-year-old Manuel A. Tercero Ruvalcaba of Odessa;
- 46-year-old Martin Gomez of Odessa;
- 39-year-old Sandra Rocha-Tarrango of Odessa;
- 30-year-old Vincent Flores of Odessa;
- 43-year-old Armando Gardea of Odessa;
- 29-year-old Refugia Jurado Gamboa of Lubbock, Texas;
- 34-year-old Pauline Gamboa-Ross of Lubbock;
- 45-year-old Rojelio Rayos Castillo of Odessa;
- 23-year-old Maria Tarango of Odessa;
- 42-year-old Laura Carrasco of Presidio;
- 36-year-old Busillo Cervantes of Odessa;
- 27-year-old Edgar Valencia of Odessa;
- 39-year-old Enrique Quinonez Juarez of Ojinaga;
- 35-year-old Taquanan Gerrod Bergen of Odessa;
- 39-year-old Jesus Ortiz Alcantar of Mexico; and
- 31-year-old Adolfo Porras of Odessa.
All of the defendants with the exception of Valeriano, Juarez, Alcantar, Gonzales, Hernandez, and Porras were arrested today or were already in custody prior to today.
Upon conviction, the defendants face between 10 years and life in federal prison.
In another matter, 67-year-old Jimmy Wayne Wright, owner of B&L Adult Bookstore in Odessa, faces federal drug charges. Wright, who remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Monday, was arrested on Tuesday by Drug Enforcement Administration agents while executing several search warrants.
A seven-count federal grand jury indictment—returned on January 25, 2012—charges Wright with possession and distribution of products knowing that they would be used in the manufacture of cocaine. The indictment alleges that since January 2007, Wright has continuously possessed or kept in stock for purchase at his business various commonly used cutting agents for cocaine, namely inositol, lidocaine, mannitol and “Bolivian Rock” incense.
The indictment also contains a notice of criminal forfeiture whereby the government is seeking to forfeit any property used to facilitate the alleged offense or derived from the alleged offense.
During this investigation, authorities have seized approximately $727,000 from a bank account associated with Wright, $300,000 in cash, a $45,000 check made payable to Wright and several weapons.
Upon conviction, Wright faces up to four years in federal prison per count.
“In these investigations, DEA and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners targeted various aspects of the cocaine trade in the Midland/Odessa area. In addition to pursuing members of an organization responsible for distributing significant quantities of cocaine, we went after facilitators who provide dealers with products used to ‘cut’ or dilute cocaine prior to further distribution. The arrests and seizures in these cases are the result of outstanding cooperation among law enforcement agencies in this region and are expected to have an immediate impact on the supply of illicit drugs to the area,” said Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration-El Paso Division.
This investigation was conducted by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration together with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Department of Public Safety, Midland County Sheriff’s Department, Ector County Sheriff’s Department and the Midland Police Department. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John Klassen, Brandi Young and William Tatum.
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.