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Jan. 21, 2009

SEVERAL ARRESTED FOR COCAINE AND MARIJUANA TRAFFICKING

Result of multi-agency anti-gang task force initiative

(HOUSTON) – Ten defendants charged in a five-count indictment have been arrested for their roles in an alleged marijuana and cocaine trafficking conspiracy, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Four defendants are fugitives and warrants remain outstanding for their arrest. During the enforcement actions in Houston today, officers also seized several high-end vehicles, firearms, jewelry, cell phones, marijuana and cocaine and more than $12 thousand in cash.

“The Multi-Agency Gang Task Force is a prime example of the successes that can be achieved with cooperative law enforcement efforts,” Johnson said. “Through this partnership, organized gang members and their affiliates are being taken off the streets.”

Johnson announced the indictment and arrests along with joint agency anti-gang initiatives at a news conference at the United States Attorney’s Office in Houston, accompanied by FBI-Houston Special Agent in Charge Andrew R. Bland III, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Special Agent in Charge Rodney E. Clarke, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Associate Special Agent in Charge Thomas Hinojosa, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge J. Dewey Webb and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Criminal Intelligence Service Captain George E. Rhyne Jr. All these agencies are part of a Multi-Agency Gang Task Force whose goal is to disrupt and dismantle gangs in the Houston area. 

“Dismantling a gang is like tearing down a building,” said Bland. “Knocking down one wall at a time will not cause the demise of the structure. However, when the infrastructure is targeted, the building can no longer stand. Our goal is not to disrupt a gang, but to dismantle it entirely.”

The indictment announced today is the first indictment of 2009 highlighting the efforts of the Multi-Agency Gang Task Force (MAGTF), which coincides with the Department of Justice’s Anti-Gang Initiative.

Anti-gang investigations, which are long-term investigations, involve gangs such as the Houstone Gang which is a chapter of the Tango Blast prison gang. Other major gang cases which were the result of investigations pursued by MAGTF involved the following gangs:  4th Street Bloods (in which MAGTF worked in coordination with the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force), Los Hermanos de Pistoleros (HPL) and Texas Syndicate. Through these cases, 59 gang members were arrested and more than $4.5 million, multiple high-end vehicles and numerous real estate properties were seized.

“In our fight against criminals who know no jurisdictional boundaries, continuous cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement is crucial,” Hurtt said. “HPD is proud to be a partner with the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and others in the Multi-Agency Gang Task Force. For example, by working cooperatively our gang related murders have decreased by nearly 41% (from 61 in 2007 to 36 in 2008). The arrests and indictments announced today represent success and is a clear example of why we must continue to work together for the years to come.”

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2007, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute 1000 or more kilograms of marijuana and five or more kilograms of cocaine in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas and elsewhere. The other counts allege violations of possessing the marijuana and cocaine with the intent to distribute the controlled substances. The indictment also provides notice that the government intends to seek forfeiture of the interests of the defendants and $18 million alleged to constitute the proceeds of the drug trafficking activity or to facilitate such activity.
                       
All defendants in custody are expected to be arraigned before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Houston. Those arrested include: 

Edgar Madrigal, 24, of Houston,
Manuel Damian Juarez, 28, of Houston
Sabas Cruz Deleon, 29, of Houston
Enrique Rodriguez Jr., 30, of Pearland, Texas
Eric Victor Arauza aka E, 27, of Houston
Saul Salinas, 35, of League City, Texas
Cornelio Moreno aka Mono, 22, of Pasadena, Texas
Sergio Rivera, 28, of Houston
Phillip Jerome Barajas, 28, of Houston
Ivan Nacianceno, 25, of College Station, Texas

Ronnie Elmer Jackson, 36, of Navasota, Texas; Raul Sergio Madrigal, 29, of League City, Texas; Mario Alberto Gonzalez, 34, of Houston; Juan Mario Rangel, 28, of Houston are fugitives and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests. If anyone has any information about these individuals, please contact your nearest U.S. Consulate or your local office of the FBI. The Houston FBI office can be reached at 713-693-5000.

For the conspiracy charge, the defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years imprisonment, a $4 million fine and five years supervised release. All substantive counts carry an equal or lesser possible sentence depending upon the amount of drugs involved.

The arrests come after a three-year joint investigation conducted by special agents of the FBI, DEA, ATF, IRS and the Houston Police Department with assistance from DPS, Pasadena Police Department and Harris Co. Sheriff’s Department. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer B. Lowery and Tim S. Braley. 

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

 

 

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