Home Knoxville Press Releases 2010 Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agents Arrest Several Members of a Major Drug Trafficking Organization for...

Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agents Arrest Several Members of a Major Drug Trafficking Organization for Cocaine and Marijuana Trafficking and Firearms Offenses

U.S. Attorney’s Office October 22, 2010
  • Eastern District of Tennessee (865) 545-4167

JOHNSON CITY, TN—Federal, state, and local law enforcement agents, executed arrest warrants early this morning and took into custody several defendants involved in a cocaine and marijuana trafficking organization operating in North East Tennessee. Those apprehended will begin to appear at 2:00 p.m., on October 22, 2010, in Greeneville, Tennessee, before United States Magistrate Judge Dennis H. Inman.

The arrests were the result of a joint long-term investigation that involved law enforcement officers with the following agencies: Tennessee First Judicial District Drug Task Force (1stDTF), Tennessee Second Judicial District Drug Task Force (2ndDTF), Sullivan CountyTennessee Sheriff’s Office, Kingsport Tennessee Police Department, Bristol Tennessee Police Department, Carter County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, Elizabethton Tennessee Police Department, Erwin Tennessee Police Department, Washington County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, Johnson City Tennessee Police Department, Jonesborough Tennessee Police Department, Hamblen County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, Morristown Tennessee Police Department, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Knox County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Tennessee Police Department, Knoxville Tennessee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA), Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), all of which provided invaluable assistance during the course of the investigation.

Those arrested include the following individuals:

  • Tomas Estrada Sarabia, 36, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Antonio Herrera, 34, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Manuel Perez Burelo, 33, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Sergio Castaneda Rivera, 34, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Andres Linares, 30, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Luciano Hernandez Valiente, 33, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Rodrigo Luna, 25, Washington County, Tenn.
  • Amansio Garcia Juarez, 30, Washington County, Tenn.
  • Orlando Leonel Zacarias, 21, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Mario Hernandez Velazquez, 42, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Adan Fernandez, 25, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Martin Gomez, aka Chicken, age and residence unknown
  • Howard Frank Couch, 54, Fall Branch, Tenn.
  • Jose Vergara, aka Gordo, age unknown, Kingsport, Tenn.
  • Juan Salas, 29, Johnson City, Tenn., currently in state custody
  • Alberto Bautista Lopez, unknown, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Antonio Ruiz, 40, Kingsport, Tenn.
  • Arturo Salas, age and residence unknown
  • Carlos Rodriguez, 24, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Ejidio Lopez, 19, Johnson City, Tenn., currently in state custody
  • Eusebio Ramirez, 43, Jonesborough, Tenn.
  • David Bonfil-Luna, 31, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Jose DeLaPaz DeLaCruz, 27, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Jesus Flores Villegas, 39, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Jorge Mariano Salas, 29, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Luis Osorio Luna, 29, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Pablo Jose Pacheco, 47, Johnson City, Tenn., currently in state custody
  • Ramon Mercado Martinez, 27, Erwin, Tenn.
  • Ricardo Lopez, 31, Johnson City, Tenn., currently in state custody
  • Stacey Williams, 41, Jonesborough, Tenn.
  • Margarito Martinez Hernandez, age unknown, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Paul Pelaez, age unknown, Johnson City, Tenn.

Members of the public are reminded that these are only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

This prosecution is brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

Funding for some of the task forces involved in this investigation also came from the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Area (HIDTA) which was created in 1998, one of 32 areas in the nation that have been designated as HIDTAs. The HIDTA Program began in 1988 when Congress authorized the Director of The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to designate areas within the United States which exhibit serious drug trafficking problems and harmfully impact other areas of the countryas HIDTAs. The HIDTA Program provides additional federal resources to those areas to help eliminate or reduce drug trafficking and its harmful consequences

Assistant United States Attorney Wayne Taylor will represent the United States in this prosecution.

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