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Federal Authorities Arrest Twelve Members of El Paso-Based Drug Trafficking Organization

EL PASO, TX -- Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division, Special Agent in Charge David Cuthbertson, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s El Paso Division and United States Attorney John E. Murphy and announced the arrests of 29-year-old Rogelio Macias of Clint, Texas, and 45-year¬ old Luis Serrano of El Paso, along with ten other members of their drug trafficking organization for conspiring to import and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

Also arrested yesterday were: 29-year-old Alberto Benavidez of San Elizario, Texas; 34-year-old Rene Octavio Macias of El Paso; 41-year-old Horacio Licano Pacheco of El Paso; 34-year-old Cesar Cardoza of El Paso; 41-year¬-old Ruby Ceniceros of El Paso; 32-year-old Antonio Espindola, III of El Paso; 30-year-old Victor Manuel Castillo of El Paso; 34-year-old Rene Pena-Esparza of El Paso; 36-year-old Andres Vasquez of El Paso; and, 38-year-old Avilio Roberto Alonso-Gracia of El Paso. Three co-defendants, 57-year-old Jimmie Williams, 55-year-old Manuel Steele and 43-year-old Armando Garcia Lopez of El Paso, were already in state custody prior to the round-up.

The two-count indictment alleges that since 2004, Rogelio Macias, Luis Serrano, Alberto Benavidez, Rene Macias and Jimmie Williams have conspired to import from Mexico more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana for distribution in the United States. The remaining defendants conspired to import more that 100 kilograms of marijuana for distribution in the United States.

“This investigation has struck a significant blow against this drug trafficking organization, and the indictment and arrest of its alleged members will have a positive impact by disrupting the flow of illegal drugs into our neighborhoods and throughout the United States. We will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to pursue those who threaten our communities through the smuggling and distribution of dangerous drugs,” said Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s El Paso Division.

“The arrest of these individuals represents the cooperative efforts of our law enforcement partners to investigate and seek prosecution of individuals who choose to participate in drug trafficking enterprises. It is through these cooperative efforts we are able successfully disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating in the El Paso area,” stated Special Agent in Charge David Cuthbertson of the FBI’s El Paso Division.

It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The charges carry a sentence of between ten years to life in federal prison upon conviction.

This Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, included participation and coordination with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies: Texas Office of the Attorney General, the El Paso Police Department, the Anthony Texas Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, the Pecos Valley Narcotics Task Force, Carlsbad, NM, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation Division, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals Service and DEA and FBI agents in New Mexico and Ohio who also provided assistance in making the arrests.

The DEA El Paso Division encourages parents, and their children to visit the following interactive websites at www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com, www.JustThinkTwice.comand www.dea.gov.


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