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Twelve Indicted for Alleged Drug Trafficking in Odessa Area

MIDLAND, TX. -- Joseph D. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration -- El Paso Division and United States and Attorney Robert Pitman announced that 12 individuals have been indicted on cocaine trafficking charges. Ten of the 12 are now in custody.

The individuals arrested by federal, state and local authorities include: Herman Chavez, 23, of Odessa, Texas; Manuel Muro, 28, of Odessa; Saul Melendez, 20, of Odessa; Gilbert Alvarez, 25, of Odessa; Guadalupe Venegas, 40, of Odessa; Alfonso Gomez, 34, of Odessa; and, Manuel Pando, age 31, of Odessa.

Three other defendants in this case who were already in custody prior to the arrests include: Osvelia Rodriguez, 51, of Pecos, Texas; Daisy Castor, 30, of Odessa; and, Jesus Astorga Samaniego, 38, of Odessa.

Two co-defendants– Ruby Castor Montoya, 33, of El Paso, Texas, and Arlina Galbaldon Castor, 53, of Odessa–remain fugitives.

Two federal grand jury indictments, returned on Wednesday, charge the defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. To date, law enforcement operations conducted in the Odessa area during this investigation have resulted in the seizure of approximately 2.5 kilograms of cocaine, $214,000 in cash, and a dozen vehicles.

“This year-long investigation, which resulted in the dismantlement of an organization responsible for distributing large amounts of cocaine in Odessa, exemplifies the outstanding cooperation we have among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in West Texas. We will continue to work together to target these organizations by seizing their drugs and illicit proceeds, shutting down their operations, and bringing their members to justice,” said Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration-El Paso Division.

The case was investigated by the DEA, Ector County Sheriff’s Office, Midland Police Department, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Austin M. Berry is prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States. 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 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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