Identities released after multi-agency drug bust in Castro, Swisher Counties; 33 charged

Identities released after multi-agency drug bust in Castro, Swisher Counties; 33 charged
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Castro County Sheriff’s Office says a coordinated law enforcement effort involving around 300 officers in multiple west Texas counties has resulted in charges for thirty-three individuals and the seizure of large amounts of drugs, money and firearms.

A news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas says nineteen of the defendants were arrested on Thursday, March 5 during a large-scale takedown coordinated by the FBI’s Dallas Field Office. Four defendants remain fugitives. Ten defendants were already in law enforcement custody on state charges.

In addition to the drug charges, six defendants were charged with gun crimes, according to the release, including possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm, and felon in possession of a firearm.

“The FBI remains committed to working with our partners to protect our communities from the scourge of methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno. “In this case, we worked closely with the Castro County Sheriff’s Office, Hereford Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, and other law enforcement agencies over the course of several months in order to gather the evidence presented in this indictment.”

According to the Castro County Sheriff’s Office, a large coordinated law enforcement operation was conducted in Castro, Deaf Smith and Swisher Counties starting at 6 a.m., March 5.

The report says approximately 300 law enforcement officers descended on several locations in Dimmitt, Hart, Hereford, Milano, rural Deaf Smith County and rural Swisher County as part of a federal investigation into methamphetamine trafficking.

No exact amounts were provided, but the report says several searches in Hart and in Deaf Smith County resulted in the seizure of a “large quantity of methamphetamine and U.S. currency,” as well as several firearms in the homes of arrested individuals.

18 individuals were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury, according to the report, as well as three individuals that had State Felony warrants for Manufacture/Deliver a Controlled Substance.

The Castro County Sheriff’s Office says the investigation that led to these arrests has been a concerted effort for over a year by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Castro County Sheriff’s Office, the Hereford Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety-Criminal Investigation Division and other law enforcement agencies in the area.

Individuals with federal indictments were transported to Randall County for booking, while the three individuals with State Felony warrants were booked into the Castro County Jail.

Identities of the individuals arrested were released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas on Friday.

If convicted, the defendants face maximum sentences of up to 40 years, or life in some instances, in federal prison for the drug-related offenses, and up to 10 years for the firearm possession charges. An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

A list provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of some of those charged is included below:

  • Jesus Manuel Garcia, aka “Don Chuy,” 58

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and two counts of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Noel Mandujano, aka “Noe” and “Oregon,” 48

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • · Robert Vera, 48

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and two counts of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Gustavo Rincon, aka “Tavo,” 43

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and two counts of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Ricky Dale Leavitt, aka “Big Rick,” 45

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Michael Diaz, aka “Mike,” 45

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Michael Reyes, aka “Rat,” 42

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Arturo Martinez, aka “Juan,” 41

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Steven Mendez, 36

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Johnny Gilbert Lopez, aka “Cannon,” 52

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Katrina Casas, 34

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Ricardo Reyes, Jr., aka “Little Ricky,” 32  

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Roxanne Casas, 37

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine

  • Cruz Nunez, aka “Cruz Mendez,” 56

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Priscilla Kay Caballero, 35

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine

  • Susan Odette Stinnett, 32

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and one count of unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm (Ruger 9mm pistol)

  • Denita Mirelez, aka “Denita Mireles,” 45

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • John David Ramirez, 40

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Ricardo Chavez, aka “KK,” 39

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

  • Serviano Riojas, aka “Smokey,” 39

Charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of distribution of methamphetamine

The release states the investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office; the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Division; the U.S. Marshals Service; Homeland Security Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ Dallas Field Division; ICE – Enforcement & Removal Operations; Castro County Sheriff’s Office; Hereford Police Department; Texas Department of Safety; Amarillo Police Department; Dimmitt Police Department; Randall County Sheriff’s Office; Lubbock Police Department; Potter County Sheriff’s Office; Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office; and the Plainview Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Long is prosecuting the case.

This case was brought by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, an interagency partnership dedicated to reducing the supply of illegal narcotics in the United States and combating violence associated with the drug trade.

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