Nineteen Arrested in Connection with Austin-Based Cocaine Distribution and Bulk Cash Smuggling Operation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 21, 2013|
Federal, state, and local authorities have arrested 19 individuals in connection with a cocaine distribution and bulk cash smuggling conspiracy based in Austin, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman; Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena, Houston Division; and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw. A list of the arrested defendants is below.
A two-count federal grand jury indictment (A13cr067), returned on Tuesday and unsealed today, charges the defendants with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. The indictment also charges six defendants with one count of bulk cash smuggling. The indictment alleges that from January 2009 to the present, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. According to the indictment, G.R. Custom Body and Paint in Austin, owned by defendant Hugo Gaspar, served as the primary distribution hub for multiple sources of cocaine smuggled into the United States from Mexico. Authorities allege that in addition to distributing cocaine in the Austin area, cocaine was transported to Houston and Dallas as well as Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, and Alabama for further distribution. Proceeds from the sale of the cocaine were transported back to Austin and ultimately to Mexico. During this investigation, authorities have seized over $1 million in U.S. currency and approximately 120 pounds of cocaine attributed to this cocaine distribution network.
A separate but related federal grand jury indictment (A13cr027) returned last month in Austin charges 20–year-old Erick Rodriguez-Aguilar and 19–year-old Julio Ramon Sandoval-Arizmendi for their roles in this operation. Both are charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Rodriguez and Sandoval both remain federal custody.
Upon conviction of the drug charge, the defendants face between 10 years and life in federal prison; of the bulk cash smuggling charge, they face up to five years in federal prison.
“The investigation uncovered one of the most significant drug organizations in the Austin area in terms of sheer quantities of cocaine being distributed, and the convoluted distribution web which facilitated the large-scale trafficking operation,” stated DEA-Houston Division Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena.
“Today marks a milestone in disrupting a major Mexico-based cocaine trafficking organization that supplies narcotics to the Central Texas area and beyond. Thanks to the efforts of DPS Criminal Investigations Division agents working in conjunction with our federal and local law enforcement partners, our neighborhoods are safer today with these individuals off our streets and behind bars,” stated Lt. Colonel David Baker, DPS Deputy Director-Law Enforcement Operations.
This case resulted from an investigation by the South Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) made up of investigators from the following agencies: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Federal Bureau of Investigation (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.
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.
Operation Treasure Lost Defendants
Case Number: A-13 cr 067
|Ubaldo RODRIGUEZ-Perez||41||Mexico||1, 2|
|Jose Francisco GAONA-Segura||32||Mexico||1, 2|
|Hugo Castillo GASPAR||40||Mexico||1, 2|
|Jerrimie Jerome HYDER||26||U.S.||1|
|Francisco Javier CASTILLO||28||Mexico||1, 2|
|Miguel Angel ELIAS||40||Mexico||1|
|**Marlon RAMIREZ-Castro||28||Mexico||1, 2|
|Jose Manuel CARBAJAL||29||U.S||1, 2|
|**Santos Nieto JAIMES||35||Mexico||1|
Case Number: A-13 c3 027
|**Julio Ramon SANDOVAL-Arizmendi||19||Mexico|
** Were already in custody prior to today’s arrests