7 arrested on federal drug conspiracy charges
Provided by U.S. District Attorney
LUBBOCK — An investigation into a large scale drug trafficking organization in Hockley and Cochran County, Texas has resulted in federal drug distribution conspiracy charges against seven defendants who are charged in two federal indictments that were returned last week by a grand jury in Lubbock, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Six of the seven charged defendants were arrested early Tuesday morning in an operation led by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Levelland, Texas Police Department, the Cochran County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well as the New Mexico State Police Tactical Team, Roosevelt County, New Mexico Sheriff's Office, and the Region V Metro Drug Task Force, based in New Mexico. Most of the defendants were arrested in the Northern District of Texas and have made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant, Jr. Each was detained pending hearings set in the following weeks. Leopoldo Herrera-Gandara was arrested in the District of New Mexico where he has made his initial appearance and awaits transfer to the Northern District of Texas. Johnathan Navarrette Garza remains in custody in Cochran County on unrelated State charges.
The defendants charged in the two indictments unsealed today include:
Leopoldo Herrera-Gandara, aka "Polo," 33, of Arch, New Mexico
Raul Jose Hernandez, aka "RJ," 35, of Morton, Texas
Johnathan Navarrette Garza, aka "Johnny," 27, of Morton, Texas
Elias Avitia, aka "Mole," 20, of Morton, Texas
Arcadio Ornelas, Jr., aka "Junior," 36, of Morton, Texas
Each of these defendants is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Hernandez, Avitia, and Ornelas are also charged with one count each of possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine. Garza is charged in two additional counts, one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. Gandara is also charged with three counts of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
Jorge Andres Nunez-Saenz, aka "Tucan," 51, of Levelland, Texas
Nancy Cecilia Martinez, 37, of Levelland, Texas
Nunez-Saenz and Martinez are each charged in a four-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and two counts each of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
A federal indictment is an accusation by a grand jury. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. The conspiracy charges contained in both indictments carry different penalties based on the amount of controlled substance attributable to each defendant, with the greater amounts carrying a maximum statutory penalty of life in federal prison and a $10 million fine, upon conviction.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Long is in charge of the prosecution.