BEAUMONT, TX – A federal investigation into a wide-spread cocaine distribution ring has resulted in the arrest and indictment of 15 individuals in the Eastern District of Texas announced Drug Enforcement Administration’s Houston Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas Hinojosa and United States Attorney John M. Bales today.
The 3-count sealed indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on Nov. 17, 2010, charging 15 defendants with conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Federal, state and local agents made arrests on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011.
The indictment alleges that from 1995 through Nov. 17, 2010, the defendants, from Texas, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Tennessee, conspired to distribute cocaine and marijuana through the Eastern District of Texas. They are also accused of being involved in a money laundering conspiracy in support of their drug trafficking activities.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of $40 million; 11 pieces of real estate property in Houston, Spring, Conroe and Richmond, Texas; and six automobiles including a Ford F-150 Raptor, a Jeep Rubicon, a Hummer and a Chevrolet Tahoe.
If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 10 years and up to Life in federal prison for the cocaine charge; a minimum of five years and up to 40 for the marijuana charge; and up to 20 years in federal prison for the money laundering charge. A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by the DEA, Texas DPS, Harris County Sheriff's Office, Houston Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Pasadena Police Department, La Porte Police Department, Beaumont Police Department, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Texas National Guard, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in cooperation with federal agents in Philadelphia, Jackson, MS, and Hermosillo, Mexico. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John A. Craft.