Authorities bust multi-million-dollar drug operation with ties to Mexican drug cartels
HAMILTON COUNTY, Texas (KWTX/Gray News) - Texas authorities have arrested multiple people with ties to a major drug operation.
According to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, 22 people are facing charges in a methamphetamine trafficking scheme allegedly responsible for distributing more than 1,000 pounds of meth worth at least $24 million.
Investigators said the group has ties directly to drug cartels in Mexico, with their investigation starting in October of 2019.
KWTX reports the sheriff’s office identified the alleged criminal enterprise was operating within nearly 10 Texas counties.
Investigators shared that they started working undercover and began purchasing methamphetamine from the alleged traffickers to build a criminal case.
Authorities said their investigation revealed the illegal drug was being sold and transported within Texas from Mexico. Liquid methamphetamine was reportedly being smuggled into the U.S. and transported to Dallas. That product would then be converted to crystal meth and sold in kilogram quantities.
The sheriff’s office says investigators conducted more than 200 hours of interviews and hundreds of hours of surveillance while going through thousands of social media pages.
“This was a great effort to stop the flow of narcotics to our rural communities and it sends a message to those who may try to deal meth in the future,” said Hamilton County Sheriff Justin Caraway.
In addition to being “directly linked” to Mexican drug cartel traffickers, authorities said the defendants also have ties to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, the Aryan Circle and street gangs.
According to the sheriff’s office, the 22 defendants are facing charges that include knowingly and intentionally possessing with the intent to manufacture and distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.
Those convicted could be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison with paying a fine of up to $10 million.
Hamilton County authorities said their investigation continues, which could produce further arrests.
Authorities released the following names of those currently facing charges:
- Ricky Castillo, 35, of Irving, Texas.
- Brandon Leon Kimberling, 25, of Dallas, Texas.
- Desiree Traxel, 25, of Dallas, Texas.
- Sandi Kristine Villicana, 33 of Arlington, Texas.
- Chad Anthony Hughes, 41, of Dallas, Texas.
- Kevin Priesley Srader, 33, of Hamilton, Texas.
- Kristin Nicole O’Dell, 33, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Justin Scott Allbright, 35, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Michael Brandon Downey, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Sandra Fay Rhodes, 33, of Hico, Texas.
- Cathlene Cecile Callahan, 35, of Hico, Texas.
- Jeffrey Don Champion, 36, of Stephenville, Texas.
- James Edwin Smith, 43, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Dustie Lee Been, 22, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Cassandra Bower, 37, of Dallas, Texas.
- Genna Ann Long, 47, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Lyndon Kale Coker, 42, of Hico, Texas.
- Jerry DeWayne Knight, 30, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Kendon “Keno” DaWayne Baker, 34, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Lois Ann Srader, 41, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Claud Thomas Taylor, 42, of Stephenville, Texas.
- Megan Diane Cameron, 24, of Stephenville, Texas.
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