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Press Release

Authorities Target Meth Traffickers in Coastal Bend

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A large number of arrests have been made as part of a coordinated effort by federal, state and local law enforcement dubbed as “Operation Coastal Bender,” announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

A total of 16 Coastal Bend residents from Nueces, Bee, San Patricio, Live Oak and Jim Wells Counties are now in custody for violations of various federal and state firearm and narcotics violations. Each defendant has been charged in separate and unrelated criminal complaints or indictments. Three others remain fugitives and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests. Those are Michael McDaniel, 44, of Three Rivers; Luis Vela, 19, of Alice; and Michael Alegria Jr., 18, of Victoria. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations at 1-866-347-2423.

“Operation Coastal Bender” is a coordinated effort by federal, state and local law enforcement to identify drug traffickers and violent offenders, stop gun violence and protect the community.

Over the course of this week, federal agents, in coordination with many local and state agencies, were able to execute more than 70 federal and state arrest warrants for individuals relating to charges of trafficking in methamphetamine and gun allegations.

During the course of this operation, authorities also served three search warrants resulting in the seizure of more than three ounces of methamphetamine and several grams of cocaine, marijuana and Xanax as well as three firearms, ammunition and other items related to the sale and distribution of narcotics. Law enforcement arrested a total of 32 individuals as a result of this coordinated effort between HSI and other federal and local agencies.

“HSI is committed to working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to rid our neighborhoods of the dangerous narcotics and the illegal possession of firearms that harm the citizens of our community,” said HSI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brad Scott of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “Law enforcement in our region are dedicated to join forces as one to clean our streets of these dangerous behaviors.”  

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) worked side by side with HSI, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) as well as state and local police departments to apprehend dozens of violent criminals,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski. “This coordinated effort will make a large impact on violent crime.”

“The Beeville Police Department (BPD) participated in the operation in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies in South Texas,” said Beeville Police Chief Robert J. Bridge. “The combined efforts of all agencies provided crucial manpower assistance to seek and locate individuals involved in criminal activities.”

“Our office in Sandia would very much like to thank federal, state and local authorities from neighboring counties for their help and involvement in arresting subjects and investigations for narcotics dealing in our area,” said Jim Wells County Constable Pct.3 Jim Long, “Drugs have become a tremendous part of our investigations and agencies coming together helps us all. We will surely make this a continued event!”

The federal felon in possession of firearms charge carries up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. Each federal charge involving a controlled substance carries a minimum penalty of not less than five but potentially up to life in prison and fines up to $1 million. Using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries an additional five-year-term of imprisonment which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.

Participating agencies included HSI; ATF; Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service; DPS; sheriff’s offices in the counties of Live Oak, San Patricio and Nueces; Jim Wells County Constable’s Office; police departments in George West, Alice and Beeville; and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine unit.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Corpus Christi Division are prosecuting the respective cases.

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.

Updated August 30, 2019

Topics
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses