United States Attorney John E. Murphy and DEA Special Agent in Charge Thomas E. Hinojosa announced that 35 individuals believed to have ties to the La Familia Michoacán drug cartel is in custody based on federal charges filed in Austin this week.
In addition to making these arrests over the past two days, authorities have seized approximately four kilograms of cocaine, 21 pounds of methamphetamine as well as $150,000 in U.S. currency. Overall, the Austin portion of Project Delirium has resulted in the seizure of approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine, 100 pounds of methamphetamine as well as an estimated $750,000 in U.S. currency and other assets.
All of the defendants are charged in a federal grand jury indictment returned on Tuesday with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each defendant remains in federal custody pending detention hearings in U.S. Magistrate Court in Austin beginning next week. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired since January 2008 to distribute narcotics in Hays, Williamson and Travis counties in Texas as well as in and around Foley, Alabama. The indictment further alleges that the defendants conspired to launder and transport the proceeds from the drug distribution activity ultimately to the source of the narcotics in the Republic of Mexico. Finally, the indictment seeks a $15 million monetary judgment against the defendants representing the amount of money involved in the drug and money laundering conspiracies.
Upon conviction, each defendant faces a minimum of ten years and up to life in federal prison on the drug conspiracy charge and a maximum 20 years in federal prison on the money laundering conspiracy charge.
It is important to note that 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.
Project Delirium is the result of information gathered during the course of a previous effort targeting La Familia, known as Project Coronado. To date, Project Delirium has led to the arrest of 1,985 individuals and the seizure of approximately $62 million in U.S. currency, and approximately 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,722 kilograms of cocaine, 1,005 pounds of heroin, 14,818 pounds of marijuana and $3.8 million in other assets.
The investigative efforts in Project Delirium were coordinated by the multi-agency Special Operations Division, comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, ICE, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service, as well as attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Office of International Affairs. More than 300 federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, contributed investigative and prosecutorial resources to Project Delirium through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.