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18 Sentenced to Federal Prison for Roles in Austin-Based Drug Distribution Operation

AUG 28 (AUSTIN, Texas) - In Austin, 18 individuals have been sentenced over the past two days to federal prison terms for their roles in a cocaine and methamphetamine distribution operation announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr.

United States District Judge Sam Sparks sentenced:

Rene Perez, 35, of Austin, to 324 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Mario Gonzalez, 35, of Austin, to 235 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; David Depaz, 22, of Austin, to 168 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Gerardo Diaz, 24, of Austin, to 57 months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release; Ricardo Cruz, 27, of Pharr, TX, to 97 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Juan Gonzalez, 28, of Austin, to 120 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Joel Avilez-Jaimes, 39, of Austin, to 18 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Arthur Villalobos, 35, of Taylor, TX, to 70 months imprisonment followed by four years of supervised release; Alvaro Salinas, 46, of Austin, to 41 months imprisonment followed by four years of supervised release; Francisco Lopez, 38, of Austin, to 135 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Javier Tejeda, 25, of Austin, to 84 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Fernando Tejeda, 32, of Austin, to 135 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Efren Dias, 29, of Austin, to 262 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Jose Nieto-Figueroa, 24, of Pflugerville, TX, to 30 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Alejandro Rodriguez, 41, of Austin, to 51 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; Timothy Cooper, 50, of Debray, FL, to 41 months imprisonment followed by four years of supervised release; Rogelio Villanueva, 35, of Austin, to 60 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release; and, James Yerkes, 47, of Austin, to 87 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release.

In addition, Judge Sparks sentenced a 19th defendant in this case, 32-year-old Veronica Deleon of Taylor, TX, to three years’ probation after she pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of felony.  Sentencing for a 20th defendant, 24-year-old Hector Mayorga of Austin, was reset to September 3, 2015.

All of the defendants, with the exception of Deleon, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. According to court records, these defendants were involved in a conspiracy, led by Rene Perez, to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine throughout the Austin area and elsewhere in the United States. During this investigation, authorities seized approximately 28 kilograms of cocaine and 45 kilograms of methamphetamine, three firearms and close to $100,000 in U.S. currency.

This case resulted from an investigation conducted by the Austin High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. The Austin HIDTA Task Force is made up of investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Texas Department of Public Safety, Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Cedar Park Police Department and the Georgetown Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Guess and Matt Harding prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.

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