Arrests Dismantle Major Cocaine Trafficking Organization
APR 19 -- LUBBOCK, TX --- Three alleged members of a major cocaine-trafficking organization operating in the Lubbock area were arrested without incident this morning by federal, state, and local law enforcement officers in an early morning round-up, announced James L. Capra, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Dallas Division and U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas. One alleged member of that organization is already in state custody on an unrelated charge; another alleged member is a fugitive. All six defendants were charged in an 18-count federal indictment returned in Lubbock last month and unsealed today.
SAC Capra said, “The arrests and seizures made today will significantly impact and disrupt this large-scale cocaine trafficking organization. Today’s actions of determined federal, state, and local agencies ensure that our communities will be safer. Illegal drugs do not discriminate, and they attack the very core of our society. The people of Lubbock need to know that we are committed to serving this fine community and we will be relentless in our efforts to ensure that Lubbock continues to be a great place to live and raise children.”
U.S. Attorney Roper said, “Today’s enforcement action, the culmination of a three-year investigation, has effectively shut down a dangerous drug trafficking organization operating in Lubbock. Once again, an operation such as this demonstrates the commitment of federal, state, and local law enforcement to work together to aggressively address drug dealing in Lubbock and take the profit out of illegal narcotics sales.”
Those defendants arrested this morning are:
Defendant Scott Garza, 26, of Lubbock, is already in state custody. Defendants Juan Antonio Benitez, Jr., 45, of Lubbock and Eusebio Miramontez, 55, of Abilene, Texas, are fugitives.
All six defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Alex Romo Rios and Eusebio Miramontez, Jr., are each charged with one count of attempted money laundering. Most of the defendants are charged with various counts of possession with intent to distribute, or distribution and possession with intent to distribute, cocaine, methamphetamine, or marijuana. In addition to the three arrests this morning on federal charges, three other individuals were arrested on state charges.
The federal indictment alleges that beginning in December 2002, and continuing until the time of the indictment, all six defendants conspired together, and with others, to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, cocaine. They would acquire large quantities of cocaine, transport it to various locations, and then “stash” it at various locations.
The indictment includes a forfeiture allegation which would require, upon conviction, the defendants to forfeit these seized assets, as well as several parcels of real property (homes), to the government.
Agencies involved with this investigation and/or assisting with the arrests include: the DEA, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, the Lubbock Police Department, the Plainview Police Department, the Hale County Sheriff’s Department, the Lynn County Sheriff’s Department, the Tahoka Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. However, if convicted, each of the defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $4,000,000.00.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey R. Haag of the Lubbock, Texas, U.S. Attorney’s Office.