A total of 14 people are now in custody on methamphetamine charges in three separate cases, all part of Operation Dream Catcher, which also led to the apprehension of 7 and 15 more individuals in the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, respectively.
Those taken into custody included:
One defendant - Arturo Hernandez-Villegas, 50, of Mexico - was already in federal custody on other charges.
All have made their initial appearances in federal court. Hernandez-Villegas, Aparicio-Santos and Ortiz-Flores had a detention hearing yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy, while the remaining defendants will appear March 3, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.
Two additional defendants - Huber Cornejo, 30, and Osmel Serrano, 30, both Mexican nationals living in Houston – were in state custody on unrelated charges and are expected to make appearances in federal court in the near future.
Two others were arrested in Florida - Reilandis Florat, 30, and Evelio Villalba, 62. They have made their initial appearances there are expected to be transferred to the Southern District of Texas in the near future.
Rojo-Villa, Villa, Rojo and Cantarero are charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. This case centered around the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine in the Houston area.
In a separate criminal complaint, Olivo, Garcia and Duarte are charged with conspiracy to and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. These charges centered around the distribution of methamphetamine in the Houston area. The criminal complaint in this case details the facts underlying the charges, some of which included drug purchases with the defendants.
In the third case, Hernandez-Villegas, Aparicio-Santos and Ortiz-Flores are charged in a six-count indictment filed Feb. 18, 2016. Each are charged with conspiracy with each defendant facing additional counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
All 14 defendants face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison as well as a possible $10 million fine, upon conviction.
The complaints and indictment remain sealed as to those charged but as yet in custody.
As a part of the overall operation, authorities seized more than $2 million, 279 pounds of methamphetamine, 206 pounds of cocaine and 138 pounds of heroin.
“Methamphetamine is a vicious poison that has caused horrific and long-term damage to the quality of life in too many of our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “These indictments and arrests, as part of Operation Dream Catcher, conclude an 18-month investigation and underscore DEA’s continued commitment to working with our Federal and local law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations that negatively impact our neighborhoods and families.”
Operation Dream Catcher is the result of investigations conducted by the DEA, Houston Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force - Strike Force, DEA High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, IRS-Criminal Investigation with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; FBI; Several Divisions within the Ft. Bend County Sheriff’s Office to include the Patrol Division, SWAT and the Narcotics Task Force; Harris County Sheriff’s Office - Patrol Division; police departments in Houston, Huntsville and Pasadena; Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Texas Department of Public Safety Intel; sheriff’s offices in Montgomery and Walker counties; and the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care.
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