Several area residents arrested in ongoing drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies
HOUSTON – A total of eight people have been taken into custody on charges involving a five-year drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies, announced Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Federal authorities arrested Houston residents Brenda Natalie Alanis Duran, 36, Maria Isabel Lara Alanis, 52, Ramiro Alanis Espitia aka “Pelon,” 41, Luis Ricardo Rocha, 36, Oraldo Lozano Zamarripa, 35, Xavier Duran, 49, Manuel Desiderio Nandin, 22, and Domingo Daniel Nandin, 27. They made their initial appearances today. They are scheduled for detention hearings Nov. 23 at 10 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Sam S. Sheldon. The indictment remains sealed as to those charged but not as yet in custody.
During the arrests, authorities also seized $600,155 and one firearm at Xavier Duran’s residence. They also found and seized another firearm as well as a stolen trailer from the residence of Maria Isabel Alanis.
A federal grand jury in Houston returned the eight-count indictment Oct. 29. According to the charges, the drug trafficking and money laundering organization distributed more than 13 kilograms of cocaine, over one kilogram of heroin and over 100 kilograms of marijuana. The group also allegedly laundered more than $133,000 in drug proceeds.
All are charged in varying counts. Those convicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine face a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison. The other varying drug charges carry a minimum of five and up to 40 years in prison, while conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a potential 20-year-sentence.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Houston Police Department.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation is dubbed “Walking Eagle.”
This Operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations.
The specific mission of the Houston Strike Force is to disrupt and dismantle the drug trafficking organizations that designated Consolidated Priority Organization or Regional Priority Organization Targets head with their affiliates and that impact Houston and south Texas.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anibal J. Alaniz and Casey N. MacDonald are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.