News Release
March 8, 2006

20 Arrested in DEA-led Operation Icebox
North Texas methamphetamine investigation leads to seizures
of drugs, money and guns

(Tyler, TX)-Gary G. Olenkiewicz, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Drug Enforcement Administration and Matthew D. Orwig, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, announced today the arrest of 20 individuals on methamphetamine possession with intent to distribute charges. This case also resulted in the dismantlement of a major methamphetamine "ice" trafficking and transporting organization based in the Tyler, Texas area.

During the early morning hours of March 8, 2006, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies executed six federal search warrants and 20 federal arrest warrants. The search/arrest warrants were served in the city of Tyler, Smith County, and the state of Florida. Prior to March 8, 2006, this investigation had resulted in the seizure of fifteen (15) handguns; four pounds of methamphetamine "ice"; small amounts of marijuana and pharmaceutical drugs; three vehicles, approximately $15,000.00 in U.S. Currency (USC).

Since October 18, 2004, a DEA-led multi-agency investigation has been on-going into the distribution of "ice" methamphetamine by the Tyler, Texas - based Simon Balderas Jr. Drug trafficking and Transportation organization. This organization is involved with the distribution and sale of "ice" in east Texas, Louisiana, and Florida.

"The arrests made today are a great example of community policing. Agents of the DEA and ATF combined their efforts with state and local law enforcement to take back our neighborhoods. This investigation and the resulting arrests will be instrumental in removing these traffickers from our community that have been responsible for the distribution and transportation of multiple kilograms of methamphetamine "ice" over a three state area. The success of the operation today is a direct result of the positive relationship between local, state and federal law enforcement all working toward a common goal---a safer community," said Gary G. Olenkiewicz.

The investigation culminated on March 7, 2006, with a 26 count federal indictment in the Eastern District of Texas, alleging violations of Title 21 USC 841 (a)(1), 846, 924 (c) and Title 18 USC 922 (g), charging members of the organization of possession with intent to distribute more than 10 kilograms of methamphetamine.

“The time and cooperative effort exerted in this investigation illustrates ATF’s commitment to making our streets and community safer,” said Special Agent in Charge Ronnie Carter of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

It is anticipated that the search/arrest warrants executed on March 8, 2006, will develop evidence that could bring about additional indictments and/or arrests.

An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. Generally, most of the defendants, if convicted, face up to life imprisonment, however, a few of the defendants face up to 40 years imprisonment.

Operation Icebox, has been the combined effort of the ATF, DEA, US Marshal's Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, Tyler Police Department, Smith County Sheriff's Office and the Henderson Police Department and underlines the commitment of our federal, local, and state law enforcement to work together and to rid our communities of those who would sell poison to our children.

The cases are being prosecuted by assistant United States Attorney William Baldwin of the Tyler, Texas, United States Attorney's office.