Dozens arrested as part of Houston Violent Crime Initiative
HOUSTON – The charges against 39 individuals are the newest brought in the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Houston Violent Crime Initiative, conducted in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas and local, state and federal law enforcement.
The arrests were made after a federal grand jury returned seven separate indictments, with additional arrests made under four court-issued complaints. The defendants are each alleged to be part of larger organizations involved in large-scale drug trafficking or violent robberies. Many of the charged crimes involved the illegal possession or use of firearms.
The joint effort, first announced a year ago in September 2022, addresses violent crime by employing, where appropriate, federal laws to prosecute gang members and associates in the southwest and southeast areas of Houston. As part of the initiative, the Criminal Division has dedicated attorneys and other resources to prosecuting violent offenders and assisting intervention, prevention and reentry efforts to address the root causes of violent crime.
Among the charges are possession with intent to distribute cocaine, fentanyl, meth and other drugs; possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes; conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery; felon in possession of a firearm and carjacking.
During the investigations and arrests, law enforcement seized 79 firearms, including three machineguns made by attaching a machine conversion device (MCD) to a semi-automatic firearm and three stand-alone machinegun conversion devices not attached to firearms. Also seized were a silencer, three ghost guns, an inert hand grenade, and body armor. Drugs and related items seized included approximately 248 kilograms of meth, including meth pills some of which laced with fentanyl; over 1.7 kilograms of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and PCP, as well as four pill presses and over $110,000 in cash.
The FBI, Houston Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigations with the assistance of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Harris County Constable’s Office (Precincts 3, 4, and 5), Montgomery County Constable’s Office (Precinct 4), U.S. Marshals Service, Waller County Sheriff’s Office, Cy-Fair Independent School District Police Department and the Texas Anti-Gang Center.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly Zenon, John Ganz and Carrie Wirsing are prosecuting the cases along with Trial Attorneys Sheila Lafferty, Ralph Paradiso, Anthony Kaplan and Jennifer Weinhold of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.
Charges in indictments and complaints are merely allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.